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The War on Underage Drinking

Essay by review  •  November 25, 2010  •  Research Paper  •  2,712 Words (11 Pages)  •  1,385 Views

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The War on Underage Drinking

A serious epidemic is overtaking this country. Underage drinking is spreading like a virus. Teenagers are drinking everywhere you look. It is not just teenagers in college that are drinking; there are numerous teenagers in high school, middle school, and even elementary school! How have we let it get this far? As a society, are we oblivious? Do we think there is nothing wrong with some underage drinking, or are we just incapable of fixing this problem? There is no excuse to be oblivious anymore. Underage drinking is right in front of our faces. It is killing our children. The good news is that this is a problem that can be fixed. There is no way of completely eliminating underage drinking, but it can be greatly reduced. With efforts from the government, parents, and the media, we can diminish underage drinking a great deal. We need to start educating our children that alcohol is a dangerous drug. We need to start setting better examples for our children. The government needs stricter laws for underage drinkers. The government needs to also enforce these laws more effectively. The media needs to quit targeting today's youth. Our society needs a change of mind. Drinking at a young age is happening; it is severe, but it can be prevented.

Drinking starts at a young age. One third of fourth graders have been pressured to drink alcohol and more than half have been pressured by sixth grade. By eight grade, nearly fifty percent of all teenagers have had at least one drink. Then by the twelfth grade over eighty percent of all teenagers have had a drink and sixty-four percent have been drunk (Youth and Underage Drinking: An Overview). These are shocking and startling facts for some. But the truth is, it's there.

What is the problem with all of these minors drinking? There are quite a few people who do not think that drinking at a young age is bad for you. There have even been advocates for changing the drinking age to eighteen. This is absolutely absurd. Alcohol can cause many problems for anyone but more so in adolescents. By raising the minimum drinking age to twenty one in 1975, an estimated 20,000 lives have been saved (Alcohol Alert). Drinking and driving has a lot to do with that statistic. Even though alcohol is illegal for people under the age of twenty-one, adolescents have twice the number of fatal drunk driving accidents than drivers over the age of twenty one. Everyday three teens die from drinking and driving (Alcohol Alert). These statistics are incredible, considering that alcohol is illegal for these teens. Can you imagine what would happen if it was legal for these teens to be drinking? There are some teenagers who are smart enough not to drink and drive. But they are not smart enough to see what alcohol can do to their brain and their decisions. There is a reason why we have the law set at age twenty one. A human's brain is not done developing until the age of twenty-one. Drinking before this age can contribute to alcohol-induced brain damage which can hinder a teenager's performance in academics (Alcohol Alert). There is also a risk that teenagers that drink are four times more likely to develop an alcohol dependency sometime in their lives. Risks in sexual assault also plague underage drinkers. Sexual assault is already more prevalent during adolescent ages. By introducing alcohol, sexual assault cases are much more likely to happen. It has also been shown that when alcohol is involved, the more likely sex will result in unwanted pregnancies and STD's. There is also a much higher risk of suicide. In one study, thirty seven percent of females that drank heavily had reported attempting suicide compared to only eleven percent that did not report drinking (Armstrong, Elizabeth). "Smart" college students will even tell you that alcohol affects them. According to Hank Nuwer in Wrongs of Passage, four out of every five students in the collegiate Greek system are binge drinkers. These drinkers will tell you that this has caused them to engage in risky sexual behaviors, act irresponsibly, and hurt their academic standings. From elementary schoolers to college students, alcohol has detrimental effects on the body. Alcohol is a dangerous drug that needs to be treated like one, because it is killing and affecting our teenagers.

Alcohol is all around us. Turn on the TV. It is very hard to watch anything that you would not see an alcohol commercial on. Today's media is throwing today's youth right into the world of alcohol. Teens today are very knowledgeable about alcohol. They can tell the difference between Skyy Blue and Mike's Hard Lemonade. Famous renaissance writer Francis Bacon says, "A man is but what he knows." When teenagers know about alcohol, they are more likely to try it. The media is introducing too much knowledge to today's youth. From 2001 to 2003, there was an increase of about 18,000 ads that "overexposed" underage youth (Executive Summary). Statistics show that these commercials and ads are working. Underage girls saw sixty eight percent more beer advertising than women over the age of twenty one and an incredible ninety five percent more malt-based drinks commercials. These numbers are much greater than the male counterpart, and the number of underage girls that drink is also greater than the males (Armstrong). These commercials are everywhere. The worst, yet most effective part about these alcohol commercials is that they glorify drinking. They are funny, sexy, and cool. They don't show the hangover that comes afterward or the alcoholic at age twenty five. The media won't tell anyone this, but they know what they are doing. They are targeting younger audiences to get costumers for life. Sixty percent of visitors to alcohol company websites were under the age of twenty one. What are they doing on these websites? They are playing games or listening to music (Executive Summary). Alcoholic advertisements are succeeding with underage drinkers. They get consumers hooked on alcohol before they reach college. Once in college, their obsessions can grow. College students spent $5.5 billion dollars each year. That's more than what they spend on pop, tea, milk, juice, coffee, and school books combined (Youth Statistics).

Commercials and ads aren't the only places were teenagers are bombarded with alcohol. Go watch a movie. Try "classics" such as, Animal House, Old School, or Road Trip. The majority of time spent during these movies involves watching drunken college students. These movies are comedies; so of course, all of the characters are having a great time when they are drinking. The heaviest drinkers are also the most well-liked characters. Granted, these are movies set

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