At Penn State, drinking is a huge part of the social culture. I mean, every year we are voted within the top party schools in the nation. But the life of debauchery associated with the fine students at Penn State is not unique to us: it is an issue that plagues every state in the United States. College students and young adults often get a bad rap for underage drinking and endangering themselves by putting themselves situations where drinking occurs. I believe that this issue is not to be blamed on the quality of America’s youth, but on the legal age of drinking being set at 21.
Before the drinking age was raised to 21 in 1984, individuals were able to buy beer and wine at the age of 18 and liquor at 21, according to an article by Boston. Drinking in the USA has a tumultuous history, but the main reason the age was raised to 21 was because of drunk driving statistics. CNN reported that before 1984, a majority of drunk driving incidents were attributed to 16 to 21 year olds. The solution to this, according to our lovely United States government, was to simply raise the legal drinking age to 21. We all know that has not stopped young adults from partaking in the illicit beverage.
These drunk driving statistics were not enough for some people, though. Soon individuals began to inquire as to whether or not underage drinking could be detrimental to a young adult’s development. To this I say, look to almost every other country in the world where the drinking age typically hovers around 16 to 18 (procon.com). There is little evidence that these countries, who have less of a taboo on drinking and instead educate their youths on how to drink responsibility, have stunted mental development due to drinking (Indiana).
Drinking begins to effect biological factors, such as mental development, once binging occurs. Binging is rampant in the US drinking culture and is iconic in the college partying scene. Just look at dear old Penn State, where basically every weekend is a revelry of cheap vodka and beer. The studies conducted by Indiana University point out that from an early age, people are taught that drinking is bad instead of how to drink in a responsible manner. This is similar to how we as a nation teach sex, where abstinence is the best policy. In actuality, addressing our problems in this was just breeds ignorance and does more harm than good. Because young adults do not know how to drink appropriately and in moderation, once they are exposed to it they are more likely to binge and make inappropriate decisions that could endanger their health.
Multiple studies have been conducted which show that drinking in moderation has no effect on the developing mind. Binge drinking, which occurs mostly in those below 21, is incredibly bad for the body and mind of young adults. This points to an issue in education of how to drink appropriately. Therefore, if the United States got their act together and realized that ignoring social issues such as teen drinking is not a wise way of solving problems, we could begin to solve this plaguing social issue that imparts a bad reputation on the youth of America. Based on the various studies conducted throughout the years, I believe that if we educated ourselves and made a conscious effort, it would be possible to lower the drinking age. There are many arguments against this stance, but through education on drinking and an approachable attitude in regards to information on alcohol, there could be significant improvement in the drinking habits of young Americans.