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We are excited to see that the rate of alcohol usage by eighth, tenth and twelfth graders has declined since this study began. However, we believe that it is premature to celebrate this decline. The report still indicates that alcohol is the top drug of choice for adolescents. Additionally, 40 percent of high school seniors report regular use of alcohol and more than 20 percent of seniors report engaging in high-risk drinking behaviors (drinking 5 or more servings of alcohol at one time).
More than 25,000 lives have been saved in the U.S. thanks to the 21 Minimum Legal Drinking Age.
This law continues to prevent tragedies—decreasing crashes by an estimated 16 percent and keeping young people safer from many risks.
Sometimes, without knowing all the facts, people assert that youth shouldn’t have to wait until they’re 21 to drink. James C. Fell, a public health researcher at the Pacific Institute for Research & Evaluation, responds to their questions.
Many activities have ages of initiation. A person must wait until age 16 to start driving, age 18 to marry without parental consent, age 35 to become president, and so on.
The age limit for alcohol is based on research which shows that young people react differently to alcohol. Teens get drunk twice as fast as adults, but have more trouble knowing when to stop. Teens naturally overdo it and binge more often than adults.
Enforcing the legal drinking age of 21 reduces traffic crashes, protects young people’s maturing brains, and keeps young people safer overall.
Some states permit parents to do this with their own child (rarely, if ever, with someone else’s child), but there’s no evidence that this approach actually works. As matter of fact, there is evidence to contrary. When teens feel they have their parents’ approval to drink, they do it more and more often when they are not with their parents. When parents have concrete, enforced rules about alcohol, young people binge drink less.
History says no. When states had lower legal drinking ages in the U.S., the underage drinking problem was worse. For example, before the 21 minimum legal drinking age was implemented by all states, underage drunk drivers were involved in over twice as many fatal traffic crashes as today.3
That’s a myth. European countries have worse problems than America does, as far as binge drinking and drinking to intoxication. Studies show that Europe has more underage drunkenness, injury, rape, and school problems due to alcohol. Since alcohol is more available there, it actually increases the proportion of kids who drink in Europe.
Research shows that education alone doesn’t prevent risky behaviors. For example, driver education by itself does not reduce youth car crashes. Beginning drivers need other restrictions in place, such as curfews and passenger limits, to stay safe. In addition, there are clear health risks associated with underage drinking.
- See more at: http://www.madd.org/underage-drinking/why21/#sthash.nlJxE5xS.dpuf
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