The Impact of Raising the Legal Drinking Age to 21

Teenagers, particularly those aged between fifteen and eighteen, are currently consuming an alarming average of nine to eleven cans of beer per week. This concerning trend raises questions about the appropriateness of the legal drinking age. The potential life-altering consequences of excessive alcohol consumption among teenagers, including its link to violent incidents, highlight the need for a careful examination of whether raising the drinking age to twenty-one is a viable solution.

The Perils of Underage Drinking

Teenagers often underestimate the inherent dangers associated with alcohol consumption.

BBC News reports that the United Kingdom faces a significant issue, with a fifth of children aged eleven to fifteen consuming alcohol at least once a week. Shockingly, statistics reveal that teenagers are imbibing an average of forty-four bottles of wine or one hundred and seventy-seven pints of beer annually. A Telegraph article sheds light on the situation in Scotland, where one hundred and ninety thousand fifteen to sixteen-year-olds exist, with fifty-seven thousand engaging in binge drinking—defined as consuming five or more drinks in a single session.

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This rampant behavior, if left unaddressed, has the potential to derail the lives of these teenagers before they even reach adulthood.

Alcohol's Role in Teenage Violence

Alcohol's contribution to teenage violence is a pressing concern. An illustrative case is that of Brendan Harris, a fifteen-year-old who was convicted of murdering Sophie Lancaster in a Lanarkshire park after consuming an excessive amount of alcohol. The influence of two liters of beer, peach schnapps, and additional lager led Harris to commit a heinous act.

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This tragic incident underscores the impact of alcohol on one's judgment and the potential for it to drive individuals to commit terrible deeds. Similarly, a 2006 BBC News article recounts the story of three young boys, aged sixteen and seventeen, who stabbed a young woman to death in Paisley during an episode of what the judge described as "drunken aggression" carried out for entertainment purposes.

No one should be subjected to harm due to the irresponsible actions of teenagers influenced by alcohol. The story of three underage boys committing murder under the influence of alcohol serves as a stark reminder that the consequences of excessive drinking extend beyond individual lives to impact the broader community.

Tragedy in Glasgow: A Consequence of Teenage Drinking

A tragic incident in Glasgow's Maryhill Rd at around 6:30 pm further emphasizes the severity of teenage alcohol consumption. Paul Woods, a twenty-nine-year-old, fell victim to a gang of four teenagers while standing outside his local shop with purchased alcohol. The motive behind the attack was the desire for his alcohol, and Woods tragically lost his life in the process. This incident, reported by The Sun Newspaper, serves as a chilling example of how teenagers, driven by the urge to consume alcohol, can resort to violence, resulting in the loss of innocent lives.

Weighing the Arguments for and Against

Debates often arise regarding the legal age for drinking, with some pointing to inconsistencies in the age at which individuals can marry, work, or have children. While it may seem incongruent to disallow drinking at sixteen, this perspective fails to consider the unique risks associated with alcohol consumption by teenagers. The argument in favor of maintaining a higher drinking age aligns with the undeniable evidence of the detrimental impact of alcohol on both individual health and societal well-being.

Some may argue that raising the drinking age to twenty-one could exacerbate the issue of binge drinking. However, it is essential to recognize that adults play a role in enabling underage drinking by purchasing alcohol on behalf of minors. This practice contributes to the problem and sets a poor example for impressionable teenagers. Parents, too, bear a responsibility to discourage binge drinking by not providing their children with alcohol and promoting responsible behavior.

The Case for Raising the Drinking Age

Advocates for raising the legal drinking age to twenty-one contend that it could have a positive impact on reducing violence on the streets and mitigating the influence of gangs. By delaying access to alcohol, this measure aims to prevent unnecessary loss of life and contribute to creating a safer society. The argument extends to the belief that teenagers should not feel compelled to engage in binge drinking for recreational purposes, as responsible behavior can lead to a healthier and more fulfilling life.

In conclusion, the issue of teenage alcohol consumption demands serious consideration. The alarming statistics and tragic incidents underscore the urgent need for preventive measures. While some argue against raising the legal drinking age, the potential benefits, including reduced violence and societal harm, make a compelling case for implementing this change. It is crucial for society to take collective responsibility, from policymakers establishing effective regulations to parents and adults setting positive examples. By addressing the root causes of teenage drinking, we can strive to create a safer and healthier environment for the younger generation.

Updated: Jan 02, 2024
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The Impact of Raising the Legal Drinking Age to 21. (2017, Jan 15). Retrieved from

The Impact of Raising the Legal Drinking Age to 21 essay
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