The Drinking Age

I was watching an episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (don’t ask me why) and it was discussing the drinking age. Of course, the way they handled the subject ended badly for everyone, but they made a point that we seem to have forgotten: If teens learn to drink in a safe and responsible environment, they will carry those habits with them the rest of their lives. If they learn to drink 40’s in the middle of nowhere and drive home drunk to make curfew, THOSE are the habits they will carry with them for the rest of their lives. The only reason OUR drinking age is so high is that our government doesn’t believe that parents can turn their kids into responsible adults. Instead, they feel the need to regulate anything that might hurt us, thereby taking the decision-making out of our hands.

I think it’s a better idea to talk to kids about alcohol and teach them to use it responsibly at or before (with direct parental supervision) the age of 16. The countries where the legal drinking age is 16 or lower have very few problems with alcohol. People are taught not to drink and drive (which works better when there is a good and SAFE public transportation system), not to over-indulge (for reference, visit your nearest college), and what their limits are (which isn’t happening here, as evidenced by AA and the 12 Steps) in a safe environment surrounded by people who care about them.


18 Responses to “The Drinking Age”

  1. 1 AQ
    July 16, 2006 at 3:59 pm

    I think we almost agree here. I do think it would be better if teens learned responsible drinking while they were still under their parents “control” and care. I’m very annoyed that they are well beyond “adult” age before they can have a drink legally. And it bothers me that I can’t hold legal hands on learning lessons while I still have the upper hand on their lives.

    The only thing that I’m not sure about is the effects of alcohol on the developing teenage brain. Here is a recent article.

    And here’s a report from the AMA.

    Those things concern me also. I think – like for most things – moderation is really the key.

  2. 2 United We Lay
    July 16, 2006 at 5:21 pm

    Remember that this article focuses on HEAVY drinking. Occasional drinking has little to no effect on an adolescent brain. This is exactly why parents MUST have an active role in teaching their kids when and how much to drink. It does not end well for those without such guidance. Thanks for the links!

  3. 3 Ed Abbey
    July 17, 2006 at 12:35 pm

    I think statistics get skewed when comparing teenage accident rates in our country with others. Here, if you get caught drunk driving, you get a slap on the hand and a court fine. Most other countries take your license for long periods of time and some even take your vehicle… permanently. I would be in favor of a lower drinking age for your stated reasons but I think we should impose much much greater fines and anyone caught drunk driving automatically loses their vehicle… permanently.

  4. 4 Laura
    July 17, 2006 at 2:51 pm

    Your view seems to be a harm-reduction model and I agree that those are most effective. There’s growing evidence on all fronts (sex, drugs, alcohol) that abstinence only education leads to mis-information, urban legends, and risky behavior. The more kids know about the behavior, be it sex or drinking, the better decisions they can make. If you teach kids that marijuana, heroin, and beer are all equally bad you end up with kids who believe their friends when they heard from someone that herion isn’t addictive if you smoke or snort it. That was a myth circulating the burbs several years ago in Chicago that led to a huge spike in heroin use among white teenagers. Alcohol is the same way – teach them that it’s best if they stay away, but if they do drink – here’s what you need to know.

  5. 5 United We Lay
    July 17, 2006 at 4:13 pm

    I agree that we need MUCH stricter standards when it comes to drunk driving. Did you know that if you kill someone while drunk driving you only get 4 years in jail? And you can have your lisence back when you get out. I think 1 DUI should be a 3 month suspended lisence and a heavy fine, 2 DUIs should result in lisence suspension for a year and mandatory counseling, and 3 DUIs means that you never get to drive again. Of couse, if you hurt someone, jail time must also be a requirement along with counseling, and if you kill someone, you go to jail for life for murder.

    I think you should be teachign kids that alcohol should be used in moderation, marijuana isn’t addictive, and heroine is EEMELY addictive. Let’s start telling people the TRUTH. If our government would do that, we’d eliminate a lot of problems, a lot of pointless laws, and a lot of pork spending that does nothing to actually help the people.

  6. 6 exMI
    July 17, 2006 at 4:49 pm

    The drinkin age went to 21 becasue politicians love sound bites. It was easier to “Protect the Children” by raising the drinking age then it was to pass unpopular enforcement laws. And of course it helps that 18-20 year olds rarely indulge their right to vote.

    the only problem with the Draconion DUI laws of europe here is that here in the US there are no alternatives to driving. Unless you happen to live in a major city with a good transit system if you permanently lose you liscnese and vehicle you have just become unemployable for the rest of your life. Which doesn’t exactly lead to responsible citizenship.

  7. 7 Saur♥Kraut
    July 17, 2006 at 6:47 pm

    Ditto to AQ, and you make great points. However, most people are morons and raise children badly (look at the kids in the public schools as an example). Therefore, I go with the government on this one. In fact, I propose the drinking age be raised to 25!

  8. 8 United We Lay
    July 17, 2006 at 9:04 pm

    That’s the same reason marijuana is illegal – politicians love sound bites. Also the same with prostitution, gay marriage, etc…

    That’s the problem. The government doesn’t trust people with their own bodies, their own children, etc… MOST people are not morons, they just don’t know the proper way to behave because they have been overregulated. Public service campaigns can do wonders on that front. Our government has stunted our development as adults, and it is NO ONE’s business wha we do in our own homes as long as we are not physically hurting anyone. The stupidest people I have ever met still know not to give alcohol to young children. There is something to be said for common sense, and giving people the opportunity to learn and teach responsibility.

  9. 9 jsull
    July 18, 2006 at 2:38 am

    As most of you already know I am for the government stays the hell out of my life. Except to protect me from outside attacks of course. But the problem seems to be with kids who have no adult influence. If the parents suck then the kids will suck, I think that is a general rule. Again I am not educated in such matters I can only judge by what I see.

  10. 10 Cranky Yankee
    July 18, 2006 at 10:53 am

    Rules without understanding what is behind them are dangerous. Telling someone not to drink because it is “bad” is avoidance.

    Forbidden fruit and all that. If we taught our kids the truth about alcohol and drugs we wouldn’t have these problems. But, that would make us more advanced, like Europe, and we can’t have that.

    Unfortunately the right wingers like to avoid controversial subjects and protect their kids from all that evil information out there. I am personally offended by DARE programs in schools and what passes for alcohol education. The truth is that there is nothing wrong with drinking and using drugs. Its the abuse of them and misbehavior committed after or while using these. It’s the same with sex. There is nothing wrong with sex if it is consensual and safe.

    Those kids are the ones binge drinking and get stds because they were home schooled and/or protected from the unpleasant truth by school systems dominated by wingers or being sent to their evangonazi “seg” academies.

    That is how conservatives maintain their grip. Maintaining blissful ignorance gives them power. That is why they want to destroy public education. The funny part is how they have their plebes doing their advocating for them. (Read all of jsull’s comments for example)

    In a few years we are going to let our daughter start having a few beers at home with us. She is going to understand, from practice, example and knowledge that drinking itself isn’t bad. It’s the abuse and behavior while drinking that can be bad(e.g., dwi, binging, etc.).

  11. 11 United We Lay
    July 18, 2006 at 6:32 pm

    I agree with you. Out of curiosity and because we plan on doing this with our son, how old will your daughter be when she has a first beer?

  12. 12 exMI
    July 18, 2006 at 10:46 pm

    Just make sure she doesn’t mention that beer in public because I have heard of parents being arrested for child abuse for letting their children drink.

    As for the other “soundbite” issues UWL, you will find no arguement from me.

  13. 13 jsull
    July 19, 2006 at 12:26 am

    I think the premis of most of my arguments could be broken down to say if the parents didn’t suck then the kids wouldn’t either on average. Im with you about teaching, parents #1 job is to teach. All parents. The ones that suck don’t. I’m sure that is some republicans fault but society has failed if a child goes without being taught responsibility and ethics.

  14. 14 jsull28fl
    July 19, 2006 at 3:32 am

    I tried to post to your blog but it wouldn’t allow it because I am not a blogger. I should start a blog huh and quit posting my thoughts all over everyone elses. i suspect that will be the take that most here have. I wonder if anyone would read it? hmmmmmmmm

  15. 15 daveawayfromhome
    July 19, 2006 at 8:16 am

    For quite a while I’ve thought the if MADD was really against drunk driving (“really”, as in “wanted to do something truly useful”, not as in being a front for some other agenda), then they would lobby for the creation of neighborhood bars. In most American towns, the only way to get to a drinking establishment is by car (or, if you can take public transport there, you must walk home). If every neighborhood had a public house, it would cut down on driving, and might help neighbors get to know each other.

    ‘Course, then you’ll have to work on the American tendancy to think that the best places are on the other side of town.

  16. 16 Cranky Yankee
    July 19, 2006 at 10:48 am

    JS – My blog allows anonymous posting.

  17. 17 Cranky Yankee
    July 19, 2006 at 10:54 am

    UWL – I’m not sure what age. It will be based on her maturity.

    EXMI – I have heard the same thing, but would welcome the legal challenge. It is a price I am willing to pay to ensure my child doesn’t become the typical product of our right wing, head in the sand society.

    I would use the case as a platform for advocacy.

    Also, I live in New Hampshire and people here pride themselves in minding their own business.

    We don’t plan on letting her be drunk.

  18. 18 jsull28fl
    July 20, 2006 at 1:50 am

    I didnt try to post. I wrote my post but when i got to the bottom it asked blogger? and that was all, i’d never post anon, i like the abuse! but ill try again and see if it will let me post as a non blogger. Not that you really care but just saying

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I am not perfect. I do my best to practice what I preach, but I am human. My mantra is, "DO NO HARM". I may not always succeed, but I will always try. My goal is to be a better person today than I was yesterday.

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