In “You’re 16, You’re Beautiful and you’re a Voter”, author Anya Kamenetz argues that the voting age should be lowered to 16. Kamenetz supports her argument by pointing out the significant increase in the number of young voters who participated in the presidential campaign of 2008. Kamenetz believes that age requirements should be flexible and paired with cognitive requirements. Kamenetz introduces her idea of an “early voting permit” available for those 16 year olds who pass a simple civics course in high school. She compares the permit to driving permits; saying that sates with graduated licensing have decreased fatalities. Along with increased voter registration, students would view voting as a privilege and duty as well as a right.
Kamenetz goes on to say that this extension of privileges for 16 year olds should not stop at voting. She suggests implementing a “drinking permit” (after passing an alcohol related course), which would allow the minor to have a few drinks with their parents and at school functions. She goes on to say that 16 year olds should be allowed to get married (since many become sexually active by this age), and to obtain credit (after passing a financial literacy test and having a parent co-signer) for the working teen. Kamenetz concludes by saying, “the more we treat teenagers as adults, the more they rise to our expectations.” Kamenetz’s suggestion of lowering the voting age to 16 is absurd. Most 16 year olds are not mature enough to make an informed decision. Few would even bother to vote, and those who would, would probably vote based on the choice of their parents or friends’ opinions, not on their own informed opinion. Sixteen year olds have other concerns such as scoring with a girl sitting next to them in class, buying the latest cell phone or the latest fashions and going to the next party. From personal experience, at 16, voting was the least of my concerns. Lowering the voting age would probably increase the number of voters, as Kamenetz points out, but are we looking for quantity or quality of votes? Another suggestion of Kamenetz, that 16 year olds be allowed to get a “drinking permit” is ridiculous. Furthermore, for her to suggest that minors be allowed to drink at school functions is beyond comprehension. What schools would be willing to take the risk of allowing 16 year olds to drink at school functions? A more logical drinking age would be 18, since at this age a person is considered an adult. Nevertheless, because drinking can have serious consequences, it should not be encouraged. According to the U.S.
Surgeon General, drinking is linked to serious injury, death and risky behavior among teenagers. Drinking related auto accidents are the leading cause of death among 15 to 20 year olds. Teens who drink are twice as likely to attempt suicide than nondrinkers; furthermore, teens who binge drink are four times as likely to attempt suicide. Binge drinking among teens can also lead to overdose and death. Drunk teens are more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior, such as unprotected sex and having sex with someone they just met. A government study in 2007 shows that binge drinking affects academic performance in a negative way. Research indicates that the human brain continues to develop through the early twenties. Exposure to alcohol during these sensitive years may have long-lasting intellectual effects and may increase the likelihood of alcohol addiction. Kamenetz other suggestion that 16 years olds should also be allowed to get married is another ridiculous idea. In what way would this benefit teens? On the contrary, marriage will just bring on the responsibilities of supporting them selves, and soon, their children. They would have to quit school in order to work full time; therefore, a college education would be out of the question. Adults currently struggle to stay married; so what are the odds of teens staying married? Slim! I don’t agree with any of Kamenetz ideas as I pointed out, 16 years old are not mature enough to make adult decisions. Voting, drinking alcohol, marriage, and obtaining credit are serious matters which even adults struggle with. I believe in preparing adulthood, but this is not the way to do it. Most of Kamenetz ideas would just be setting teens up for failure.