Little Lushes: a Big Problem
Underage drinking is wide spread through out the United States. According to Klaidman, of 10 million people under the age 21 who admitted they'd had a cocktail in the last month, 4.4 million said that they are "binge drinkers," or people who have had more than four drinks in a row. Also, alcohol use among 12 to 17 year olds has risen .9% over the past three years (137). Lack of entertainment on college campuses and easy availability of alcohol can lead to underage drinking as well. Here at UWEC, it is easy to find a party where alcohol is provided to underage drinkers. There is also not much else to do in Eau Claire, unless one has access to a motor vehicle. "For 20 year-old Iowa State junior Scott Christy, acquiring alcohol is not a problem. All he has to do is contact a friend... and within half an hour he can have the drink of his choice" (Frerking). Because underage drinking is such a problem in today's society, measures must be taken to reduce the problem.
One solution to the problem of underage drinking is to lower the drinking age from 21 years down to 18 or 19 years. At first glance, this seems like a good idea because a large portion of underage drinkers, mainly college students, would now no longer be underage and would be able to drink legally. Problem solved, or is it? According to Reginald Smart, in 1971 the Canadian province of Ontario lowered its drinking age from 21 years to 18 years, thinking this would help alleviate its underage drinking problem. At first, the new age law seemed to be working. Soon, bar owners complained because the young drinkers scared off the above 21 crowd, just took up
space, and did not drink as much as the above 21 crowd. People in Ontario also started to notice more accidents involving alcohol and more public displays of drunkenness by young people. School officials also were distressed by the fact that students were allowed to drink at lunch, and then returned to class too intoxicated to take part in the learning process. Also, school functions, such as dances and sporting events became occasions to drink. It seemed the only people still supporting the new age law were the young people who gained the privilege of drinking from the new age law. Finally, in 1978 the drinking age was raised (90,93,105). Also, lowering the drinking age is not a good solution because it completely ignores minors aged 12-17 which according to the aforementioned statistic, are starting to increase their consumption of alcohol. To sum up, lowering the drinking is not a viable solution to the problem of underage drinking.
Another solution to the problem of underage drinking is enacting stricter penalties on those who choose to drink under the legal age. The consequences of underage drinking can range from fines to jail time to driver's license suspensions to community service (What Are the Facts of Underage Drinking). According to Renee Fisher, Kansas legislators lowered the limit of intoxication from .08 to .02 for underage drinkers. This means it takes less alcohol for someone under 21 to be legally intoxicated. According to the Associated Press, New Jersey legislators approved a bill that would allow police to arrest people under the age of 21 who possess alcoholic beverages on private property. In Michigan, people underage can now be charged for attempting to "purchase, consume, or possess" alcohol (Rhodes). Although it is good that the government is taking steps to curb underage drinking, these measures will probably not have much of an effect. When people under 21 go out to drink, they are not thinking of the consequences of their actions,
they just want to have fun. They worry about being caught, but this will make them more cautious, not stop them from drinking. Even if they are caught, this probably will not stop them
from drinking again. According to the Collegian Editorial Board, "... even if a person gets arrested for a violation of the fake ID law, that doesn't mean they won't try again." In summary, stiffer penalties will not solve the problem of underage drinking.
Prevention is the only solution that can drastically reduce underage drinking. Children need to start being educated about the dangers of alcohol when they are young. Not only the dangers associated with drinking, such as alcohol poisoning, but also dangers such as rape, assault, and drunk driving. Parents should also talk to their children about underage drinking and about drinking responsibly and parents should be at home when their children have a party (What Are the Facts of Underage Drinking). In the home, alcohol should be locked away just like a gun, because it can be just as, if not more deadly than a gun. Neighbors, or neighborhood watch groups should report underage drinking to police (What Are the Facts of Underage Drinking). This way, police can stop parties before they start. Finally, according to What Are the Facts of Underage Drinking, people should report those who sell or give alcohol to people under the age of 21. If people under 21 can not get alcohol, obviously they can not drink it. In conclusion, prevention is the best solution to the problem of underage drinking.
The problem of underage drinking can not be solved in a day or two. The solution that has been provided will take a longtime and a lot of effort, but if it is followed, then underage drinking will continue to decline until it is no longer a problem.
"What are the Facts of Underage Drinking?" Untitled: 5 pars. On-line. Internet. Available
Associated Press. "Assembly Passes Bill to Fight Underage Drinking." Untitled: 7 pars. On-line.
Internet. Available http://www.smartline.com/ap/ap621101.html
Collegian Editorial Board. "Current Drinking Laws Need to be Re-evaluated." Collegian Opinion: 12 pars. On-line. Internet. Available http://collegian.ksu.ed...nion/ed-board- 9.13.html
Klaidman, Daniel. "Here's the Straight Dope." Newsweek 21 October 1996:37.
Fisher, Renee. "New Bill Tightens Limit on underage Drinking." Untitled: 12 pars. On-line. Internet. Available http://www.spub.ksu.edu...0-tolerence-fisher.html
Frerking, Tim. "Underage Drinking is Up." Untitled: 13pars. On-line. Internet. Available
Rhoades, Rebecca. "Tougher Laws Created for Underage Drinkers." Lode: 10 pars. On-line. Internet. Available http://www.grp.mtu.edu/...ws/threenews092995.html
Smart, Reginald G. The New Drinkers. Toronto, Canada: Addiction Research Foundation,
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