Should the U.S. lower its drinking age? - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Should the U.S. lower its drinking age?


What would you say if someone suggested letting your 8 year-old child drink alcohol? Of course, that's not legal in the U.S., but one scholar says it should be.

Dr. Dwight Heath at Brown University says, “In general, the younger people start to drink the safer they are. Alcohol has no mystique. It's no big deal.”

The idea of lowering or taking away the age restriction on drinking has parents talking: some are for it, some against it, and some say that decision should be left up the parents, not the government.

John Hendricks is a father of four. He says he's raising his kids to be responsible.

"Once you're 18, then you're an adult and you need to take adult responsibilities,” Hendricks said.

He says that should include being able to responsibly drink alcohol.

"With the separation of age, 16 to drive versus 21 to drink that's a pretty big range of inconsistent approach from society,” Hendricks said.

Hendricks isn't alone in saying the legal drinking age is too high. Thirty years ago this week, the U.S. set the national drinking age at 21. Now, some say it's time to rethink that.

Hendricks says parents should be allowed to practice safe drinking with their children at home.

“By the time you reach a certain age, you have more respect for the power of alcohol,” Hendricks said.

However, School Counselor Julie Harrison disagrees.

“It leads to risky behaviors, poor decisions, consequences that they're going to have to deal with later on in life,” Harrison said.

Harrison says any age below 21 is just too young.

"The bottom line is, they're 18. They are still a little bit immature. They're just not emotionally ready to make decisions concerning alcohol,” Harrison said.

Harrison says the earlier people start to drink, the greater their risk of developing alcoholism.

"They are still growing and developing into a young adult. They still need guidance, they need limits,” Harrison said.

And, she says, the current limit is just right.

"I don't support anything that's going to put our kids at risk,” Harrison said.

This is not a proposed law; there's no chance of the drinking age lowering anytime soon. As of now, it's simply a popular discussion.

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