How old is old enough?
The front page of The Gazette, CNN and The Atlantic are all running the same story about the Amethyst Initiative. The Amethyst Initiative was started by John McCardell, the former president of Middlebury College, who wanted to call attention to the issue of binge drinking on college campuses. Earlier this week, McCardell and more than 100 college presidents released a petition calling for a reduction in the legal drinking age from 21 to 18.
I completely agree with the initiative. I don’t drink; in fact, I’m the former president of my high school’s anti-substance abuse club. But I do think it’s ridiculous that at age 18 I can go off to war, get married and vote, but I can’t buy beer. I think if I can be expected to choose a leader of the United States, I should be able to drink responsibly.
The college presidents who signed the initiative believe that by lowering the drinking age to 18, students will be less likely to binge drink, the idea being that if alcohol is more readily accessible, students won’t drink themselves to the point of drunkenness when it is available.
I have some anecdotal evidence with this. A few years ago, when German exchange students visited our school, there was a massive party involving alcohol. Not a single student from Germany, where the drinking age is 16, drank to the point of drunkenness. The same cannot be said for the American students.
Dieticians make the same argument. Don’t eliminate all junk food from your diet because if you do, you’ll binge when junk food is available. Don’t put an interdict on drinking because when alcohol is available, kids will binge.
MADD is concerned that a lower drinking age will cause more drunken-driving accidents. I really believe that if we teach kids at a young age to drink responsibly, we’ll actually see a reduction in fatalities.
Let me know what you think.