The minimum alcohol drinking age varies between countries and is a debatable topic. In the United States the legal age for alcohol drinking is twenty one, whereas in many other countries it is eighteen years. The controversy around an acceptable minimum drinking age raises several points for and against lowering the age limit.
Several factors support the current drinking age. During teenage years the brain is still going through cognitive development. Allowing teenagers to drink could therefore affect their brain development and cognition. Moreover, lowering the drinking age may increase young people involved in alcohol related unacceptable social behaviours. The most favourable argument supporting the current age limit is the association between drinking and lower accidents rates. Motor vehicle accidents reduced when the drinking age was raised across all the States. However, factors such as introduction of seat belts may have contributed to reduced accidents. In this regard, accident rates are not any higher than United States in countries where drinking age is lower than twenty one.
Despite, the law forbidding the sale and drinking of alcohol for persons under 21 years, alcohol is consumed by people younger than twenty one. Often in college campuses young people hold parties and engage in excessive drinking. The fact that under age people are drinking is evidence that they have ways of getting alcohol drinks. Thus, those in favour of lowering the current drinking age argue against keeping a law that is not being enforced properly. Others argue the higher age limit makes young people think it is cool to do something forbidden and consume alcohol.
Many arguments favour lowering the legal drinking age to eighteen years. It is the legal turning point of adolescent into adults and the right for several responsible decision making are given. These include the right to drive, vote, serve in jury, work in the military and to get married. Thus, it is controversial to limit alcohol drinking to twenty one when other adult responsibilities are allowed at eighteen or even younger. Considering it is acceptable in several countries for a young person to have an alcohol drink with a meal, it is questionable why young persons in the United States would behave any different.
No doubt, alcohol consumption is a serious problem and opinions on lowering the drink age would differ. Teaching about responsible drinking in schools might be the way forward for lowering the drinking age.