You may have seen the recent news of over 100 major college representatives calling upon Congress to have the nation's minimum drinking age reduced to less than 21. They're arguing research that shows that the previous increase of of the drinking age has done little to prevent alcohol-related deaths in that age group.
Of course, on the other side is MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, is arguing that these college officials are twisting the data to make it say what they want it to. After all, there would be a signifigant shift in security needs and liabilities for these colleges were the drinking age to be lowered to 18. Then again, would putting alcohol in the hands of younger individuals make things better?
It's a debate that comes about as regularly as the legalization of marijuana, and very similarly fails to see the forest for the trees.
The factor that is left out of all these studies is history and exposure to alcohol, as age is not the sole indicator of responsible alcohol consumption. For someone who grew up in a household where one or more parents abused alcohol, it's likely that they will either grow up to abuse it themselves (and follow the examples set before them), or avoid it completely (attempting to avoid the same fate). In these cases, their experience has a polar effect.
Similarly, those who grew up in a household preaching the downfall of alcohol are likely to see this same polar effect. Either they stay the course that they have been taught, or they rebel and take alcohol consumption to it's limits.
However, those who have been exposed to responsible alcohol consumption are more likely to be able to accomplish that feat themselves. Sure, there are exceptions to this, but more often then not they are influenced by the good examples that have been set before them. In my opinion, lowering the drinking age only limits the time parents have to set a good example for their children.
In the end, I believe the only way to positively influence the current trend of irresponsible alcohol consumption in young adults is to teach parents how much they doo have an influence in their kid's lives, no matter what age. It's time for fewer parents to stop going out and getting sloshed with their friends and more to show that they can responsibly have a single glass of wine with dinner. For some, it may be quite the sacrafice. But that's what good parents do to help make their children better people.
After all, if you can't make a sacrafice for the well-being of your own offspring, it may be time to re-think your priorities…