The Instigator
Glitchy
Con (against)
Losing
8 Points
The Contender
Lightkeeper
Pro (for)
Winning
18 Points

The American Drinking Age Should be Lowered

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 4 votes the winner is...
Lightkeeper
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/6/2008 Category: Health
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 10,300 times Debate No: 5900
Debate Rounds (2)
Comments (11)
Votes (4)

 

Glitchy

Con

The legal drinking age should be kept at 21, not lowered to 18 as some states have suggested. The lowered drinking age would only apply to beer, but this will still be a harmful decision for our country. It is due to the general lack of responsibility in American teenagers, the harmful effects of alcohol at any age, and that fact that our country needs to stay strict with inhibiting substances that I believe the drinking age should be left as it is now.

[For clarification, I would like to state that I use the term teenager to refer to anyone between the years of 13 and 19]

Today's American youth has yet to prove that it is responsible enough to handle the effects of a lowered drinking age. The image of a rebellious teenager, living without regard for safety, isn't just a stereotype. News stories of teenaged robberies and violence are hardly a rare case now days, so why should our country give into the wishes of reckless children? Supporters of the lowered drinking age will argue that most teenagers and young adults are already drinking illegally, so lowering the drinking age won't show a increase in young drinkers as some may fear. So what if it won't change the amount of drinkers? But we, as a country, shouldn't tell teenagers that they can legally drink just because they were already doing it! Our government should take a more responsible role and put more focus on teaching sobriety and better enforcing the laws we have now, rather than change or make laws to appease the problem. Even looking away from the underage drinkers now, most teens can't handle the responsibility of drinking at such a young age. At eighteen, most young adults are just beginning to fully grasp independence from their parents and begin to make their own decisions. It has been proved time and time again that alcohol impairs decision making, so is it really a good idea to make it legal to drink just when teens start making some of the most defining decisions of their lives? At eighteen, a person has a lot to deal with; Paying rent, paying for food, college, working, taxes, bills, and all of the other things they never had to worry about as minors. Even without adding alcohol into the equation, these developing adults have enough to deal with. It is stupid to assume that they could handle the responsibilities that come with drinking at such a stressful point in their lives.

My second point explains the fact that, aside from the emotional unreadiness, a young adult's body is often not prepared for what alcohol/beer will throw at them. Alcohol addiction, or alcoholism, is a big problem amongst present drinkers. Many persons who are now alcoholics started drinking before the current drinking age, rendering them a life-long slave to their substance. Lowering the drinking age would only increase the number of clinical alcoholics and further damage the families plagued by the disease. But addiction isn't the worst of things alcohol will do to a young drinker's body. A study on the effects of drinking on the minds of young adults and teenagers was recently published in "Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research", showing conclusive evidence that drinking between the ages of 18 and 21 decreased the size and functionality of the pre-frontal cortex, which is the region of the human brain that controls decision making. The same study went on to explain that after a life of early-stated drinking, patients show decreased brain size and a lower mental capacity. As if the prior two reasons weren't enough, young drinking influences bad habits. Drinking is commonly associated with both gambling and obsessive binge-partying which can both be life changing addictions if left in the hands of a developing alcoholic. Gambling, which is legal in most states at eighteen, is the participation in games that revolve around the circulation of money and probability. Coupled with the judgement inhibiting effects of alcohol, gambling could permanently screw up anyone's financial life early on.

To make my final point, I would like to state that it is our legislature's job to stay strict with the laws protecting the well-being of our youth. We can't change these laws simply because some may think that they aren't being followed at the current time. Assuming that teenagers and young adults will 'Do it anyway' is a wrong and lazy thing for law makers to think. The government, at many times, has been compared to a parent. Keeping with this analogy, would a good parent lessen it's rules when they aren't being followed? No, a good parent would stick with the rules it had previously established and enforce these rules until the child matures. As I have previously stated, drinking is often associated with bad habits. Whether it is partying, gambling, or the emotional swings associated with drinking, most eighteen year could do without these life devouring habits.

We need to do everything in our power to set our youth on the path for a responsible life and with a young drinking age, this is not possible. We can not demote ourselves to the position where we change laws just because they are not being followed properly. This would not only be a sign of weakness, but also a sign that we aren't willing do do whatever is necessary to secure the future of our youth and our country.
Lightkeeper

Pro

I thank my opponent for this debate.

The Legal drinking age should be lowered to 18.

Firstly, my opponent's argument, insofar as it relates to teenagers, has a very limited application to the subject of this debate. That is because she defines "teenager" as someone between the ages of 13 and 19 and the proposed legal drinking age is 18. Thus, her "teenager" argument only covers 1 year of the 3 years in issue.

The fact that alcohol is generally harmful is not relevant to the issue as the question is at what age people should be allowed to use that harmful substance and not whether people should be allowed to use it at all. For example, using my opponent's logic we might as well increase the legal drinking age to 30 so that even less people get affected by this dangerous substance.

Alcohol is an addictive drug and it has harmful effects on people of all ages. If you start drinking at 40, you may become dependent on alcohol and suffer some, most or even all of the negative effects it can have on a person's life. The question for this debate is simply this: at what age is a person mature enough to be allowed to make decisions about their own body, mind and life.

We allow youths to drive cars at 16. We allow them to fly planes at 17. We allow them to marry at 18 (in most jurisdictions). We allow them to be parents at 16 (again, in most jurisdictions) or, at the most, 18. In effect, we are saying that a 16 or 18 year old is mature enough to entrust him/her with the life of another person; the life of a baby. It is of no small consequence here that babies are completely vulnerable and therefore to entrust someone with the life of a baby is the ULTIMATE RESPONSIBILITY possible. And yet few would argue that an 18 year old mother should, simply due to her age, have her child taken off her by Welfare. How does my opponent reconcile this with saying that the same 18 year old mother is not mature enough to make decisions about her own body?

We send 18 year olds to war and entrust them with not only their own lives but the lives of their co-combatants. We give them the responsibility to decide about the life and death of an enemy combatant. We entrust them with the task of protecting our country and our way of life. And yet my opponent suggests that an 18 year old is not mature enough to make decisions about alcohol consumption. Interestingly enough, the legal drinking age in the armed forces is in fact 18.

Most countries (by far) allow people to drink alcohol at 18. I would suggest that my opponent look at some statistics and see if there's anything to suggest that young people in countries such as Great Britain, Canada, Australia, Germany or France (to name a few) are on average less intelligent (damaged pre-frontal cortex) than those in the USA. I would be surprised if she found that to be the case. I also challenge her to show that youth crime is higher in those countries than it is in the USA. I would be equally surprised if she found that to be the case. And yet, those countries allow 18 year olds to consume alcohol whereas in the USA that age is 21.

My opponent's argument focuses on countering the enforceability argument. She says that the fact that people do not obey a law is not enough of a reason to abolish that law. That much is true. However, let us look at this a little deeper. Kids who cannot buy alcohol legally will usually get an older friend to buy it for them. Sometimes, they will have a fake ID. Some may turn to a black market dealer and thus become exposed to other illicit drugs. It is a known fact that through prohibiting something we encourage a black market for it and thus we create crime. Just consider the implication that Prohibition had. It made for a spread of organised crime (mafia).

Allowing younger people to drink and to do it legally would mean they could do so openly. It would enable them to openly discuss their problems, should such problems (drink-related) arise.

My opponent claims that the youth of America is not mature enough to drink alcohol. However, she fails to show any evidence of this. She fails to show that the youth of USA is less mature than that in a country where the legal drinking age is 18. I contend that she is not correct on this point. I believe that people mature around the same age worldwide. I do not have any evidence for it and neither do I need to produce any. We can argue this point on our respective say-so's.

My opponent's citation from "Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research" was of little assistance. I could not locate the article she referred to. "Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research" is the name of a journal and not of a particular study. However, for the purposes of this debate, I will assume that the article exists and that the experiment in it had the results as put by my opponent and that it was scientifically sound (eg, had a control group). This does not further my opponent's argument, however. The only question for us to answer is whether people at 18 years of age are responsible enough to make decisions about their own body. As above, I contend that they are.

In conclusion, the legal drinking age in the USA should be lowered to 18. We already recognise 18 year olds as responsible adults and we entrust them with humongous responsibilities, including the ultimate responsibility (raising a child). People at 18 are mature enough to decide about their own bodies and their own lives. Additionally, by lowering the legal drinking age to 18, the USA would be consistent with by far most countries of the world.

The present legal drinking age in the USA is a hypocrisy. While maintaining that the legal drinking age is 21, most states allow minors or young adults to consume alcohol in private settings. (http://en.wikipedia.org...). This does not directly address my opponent's argument, of course, as she will simply respond that two wrongs do not make a right and that these laws should be changed so as to prohibit private consumption as well.

My opponent claims that 18 is too irresponsible to consume alcohol.
Debate Round No. 1
Glitchy

Con

Glitchy forfeited this round.
Lightkeeper

Pro

Firstly, I have to concede the "teenager" point. My maths obviously need a little practice.

Now I move on to my opponent's arguments.

1. Stable environment when entering the adult world.
With all due respect, an 18 year old has already entered the adult world and is no longer entering it. People are considered (legally and socially) adults at 18 years of age.
Secondly, that stability that my opponent seeks is not affected by being legally allowed to drink alcohol. It can only be affected by abusing alcohol; by not being mature enough to make a decision as to whether or not to consume it.

2. Other rights.
My opponent claims that the fact that we can drive at 16 works to support her argument. She says that if the legal drinking age were lowered, an 18 year old driver might find himself behind the wheel with a bottle of booze in his hand. That much is true. But there are laws against drinking and driving at the same time. There are also laws against driving whilst over a certain BAC limit.

3. Mothers
Whateve age women on average have children at, teenage pregnancy is rife in the USA. And teenage mothers do make good mothers. You get neglectful teenage mothers, that's true. But you get neglectful mothers of all ages. The fact is the Government does not take your child away just because you're a mum under 21 years of age. You are entrusted with someone's life. You should therefore be equally entrusted with your own health. You are an adult in every other sense of the word!

4. 18-21's not responsible enough to handle alcohol
It is not the first time my opponent makes that contention; with no support for it whatsoever. I say that by far most teenagers are responsible enough. I say that we recognise that by giving them all the other rights we give them. I say that a legal drinking age of 21 creates a hypocritical dichotomy. I say that the fact that most states allow youngsters to drink alcohol privately is even more dichotomous. I say that my opponent must do more than merely say that young people are not responsible enough. She must do something to show it.

5. Other countries
My opponent claims that teenagers in Germany know how to drink in moderation whereas those in the USA don't. Again, no source for this. If that's true in her experience, could it be because teenagers in the USA are not allowed to drink? Therefore once they somehow do get their hands (illegally) on some booze, they tend to get absolutely butchered. Those who don't drink, don't drink at all. Those who do drink (illegally) are the ones who do so because they're problem drinkers in the first place. Or at least more likely to be problem drinkers. After all, they are the folks who feel a need for alcohol that's strong enough to make them go through the hoops of obtaining it illegally. This is of course my pure conjecture and it is of course based on what my opponent says from her own experience. By no means am I conceding anything about American teens generally.

6. Access through seniors (friends).
My opponent says this:
"If one were to survey an average senior class in a High School, many of them would be at least 18. High schoolers often have friends outside their own grade. Meaning, making alcohol legal for an age group that is still in High School would make it easier for younger people to gain access to alcohol."

Firstly, this point's validity is premised on my opponent's contention that 18 year olds are not responsible enough in the first place. I have argued (and continue to argue) against that.

Secondly, having the legal limit at 21 we still have the same problem. College students are often aged from 19 onwards. Thus, they have many friends who are 21 and above and who can quite easily provide them with alcohol.

Thirdly, with respect, my opponent can't have it both ways. Firstly she claims in Round 1 that the fact that the 21 limit is not widely obeyed is not a valid reason to change it to 18. Now she claims that giving 18 year olds access to alcohol would allow them to break the laws and supply younger friends with it. Either we agree that enforcement problems are not a relevant consideration or we agree that they are. But my opponent can't have her cake and eat it too (this saying really would make more sense if it was "You can't eat your cake and continue to possess it"...)
Debate Round No. 2
11 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Lightkeeper 8 years ago
Lightkeeper
Some people do. I generally don't unless I think my opponent has voted on himself/herself or that I've been vote-bombed :)
Posted by Glitchy 8 years ago
Glitchy
Eh, sorry. I like having two rounds rather than three. Three can get redundant.

Newbie question, but is it considered bad sport to vote on your own debate? I don't think I'm going to vote, but just out of curiosity.
Posted by Lightkeeper 8 years ago
Lightkeeper
Oops, I didn't realise it was the final round. I need to ask your indulgence and add just a couple of sentences here:

"I contended that there are laws against drink drivng and drinking while driving. I agree of course that laws can be broken. However, if we are to proceed on that footing, laws against underage drinking can also be broken. If we trust an 18 year old to be mature enough to respect the law and to not go and obtain alcohol illegally, why would we not trust him to drive his car and not have a beer in his hand at the same time?"
Posted by Glitchy 8 years ago
Glitchy
Maybe I should have pasted those in reverse order... Ah, well lesson learned.

Thank you for allowing me to sneak my second argument in via comments.

Just as an added note, everything I posted, combined, contains 4,589 characters including spaces.
Posted by Glitchy 8 years ago
Glitchy
If one were to survey an average senior class in a High School, many of them would be at least 18. High schoolers often have friends outside their own grade. Meaning, making alcohol legal for an age group that is still in High School would make it easier for younger people to gain access to alcohol. I am not suggesting the creation of any new laws or of anything at all similar to Prohibition. I am simply stating that we do not need to change our laws to accommodate a younger drinking generation.
To conclude, the drinking age needs to stay as it is now. An age of 18 may work well in other countries, but Americans are far too likely to abuse the privilege. Even if many young people could handle drinking at a young age, many cannot and it is the job of our government to keep alcohol out of their hands until they reach maturity enough to handle it. Thank you.
Posted by Glitchy 8 years ago
Glitchy
Now, I'm not about to get into the semi-abortional topic of ‘a woman's body is her right' debate, but I will say that our society is set up to accomidate an average lifestyle. We are expected to go to school until we are eighteen, to enter the workforce soon after, to marry in our twenties, and to have children in a marriage or a long-term relationship. This is not the world of the past where women were expected to wed and give birth in their early teens. Though it may be a sad fact, the truth is we are constantly being held up to the stereotypes of what society expects out of us. And, at the current time, teenage mothers are thought to be less-than-ideal parents. I disagree with this, stating that some women are mature enough to have a child at 16-18, but our government must compensate for all the women in that same age group that aren't prepared for a child and have one anyway. It may seem as if I have fallen off-topic, but this can be tied into my argument. Sure, some Americans between the ages of 18-20 may be responsible enough to handle alcohol, but we must look out for those others who are not! In a perfect system, we would have methods for separating those who would abuse the privilege from those who would do well with it. But we don't. Thus, even if some are mature enough to handle the decision, Alcohol should remain illegal until 21 to protect those who would abuse the privilege.

It is true that many other countries have a lower drinking age than we do now, but they have been that way for sometimes. In Germany, for example, young drinkers know how to drink in moderation. In America, however, young drinkers often drink beyond their limit, simply for the fun of it. The US has a different culture than other countries.
(con't)
Posted by Glitchy 8 years ago
Glitchy
Firstly, I would like to thank my opponent for accepting this debate.
Though my opponent has thus far mentioned some good points, I still stand firm when I say that the Legal Drinking Age should stay as it is now. Before I begin, I would like to clarify a few of my points. First, in regards to my definition of teenager (13-19), the term actually applies to two out of the three years in question; 18 and 19. Thus, my definition covers more than half of the age groups in question. Secondly, the citation I mentioned, was originally found in the April 2008 edition of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, but since I originally cited this article for an essay months back, the article now requires a pay subscription.
With that clarification out of the way, I will start by refuting my opponent's arguments. I disagree with my opponent when he says that alcohol being a harmful substance is not enough reason to lower the drinking age. I personally believe that alcohol is harmful at any age, but the few years between 18 and the current age of 21 are important years. My argument is not based on the idea of minimizing the people affected by alcohol, as my opponent seems to claim, but my interests are centered more in ensuring a stable environment when young people take their first steps into the ‘adult world'.
My opponent then went on to list ages at which American Citizens are allowed other rights. It is true that during the early years of adult hood, many life altering responsibilities are given to them. If anything, this strengthens my argument. At eighteen, many drivers have been on the roads for 2-4 years at the most, and still new to the practice. Legalizing alcohol at the age of eighteen would make it easier for those young-adults, who often think themselves invincible, to strap themselves in behind the wheel with a bottle of beer in their hands.
(con't)
Posted by Lightkeeper 8 years ago
Lightkeeper
I see you missed the boat.
Would you like to post your reply in comments? If so, please do. I'll wait :)
Posted by Glitchy 8 years ago
Glitchy
I want to apoligize quickly for how long it has taken me to get my 2 argument in; We had a huge blizard that knocked out our power over the weekend.

I will write it up immidately after school.
Posted by Lightkeeper 8 years ago
Lightkeeper
I have no idea what pasted the last 2 paragraphs in my Round 1 but it seems to have happened during the Spell check. They are not meant to be there.

My Round 1 should end with "the USA would be consistent with by far most countries of the world."
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by Lightkeeper 8 years ago
Lightkeeper
GlitchyLightkeeperTied
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Vote Placed by starkmad 8 years ago
starkmad
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Vote Placed by mastajake 8 years ago
mastajake
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Vote Placed by kels1123 8 years ago
kels1123
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