How Are the Young to Learn to Drink Responsibly?
In the U.S. the responsibility to teach our children how to drink in a responsible and socially acceptable manner has been taken away from parents.
Source: WSJ / Letters
July 10, 2015
In response to William McAloon’s “A Too Dry Fourth of July” (op-ed, July 3): I fully agree. In fact, if it were up to me, I would take it a step further and do away with the drinking age altogether or at least lower it to 16. In the U.S. the responsibility to teach our children how to drink in a responsible and socially acceptable manner has been taken away from parents. Instead we send our inexperienced youth into an adult world in which drinking is the norm. In the college setting that means joining a peer group in which about half of the population can legally drink, a setup for failure if ever one were created. In the military, the same thing is taking place with our junior enlisted personnel.
Not only have we taken the job of teaching responsible behavior from parents and given it to young adults who were equally deprived of the opportunity to learn proper behavior from their parents, we are conditioning generation after generation of Americans to believe that breaking the law is normal and OK.
Don’t kid yourself, these young men and women are going to drink. Our law should reflect a reasonable expectation based on societal norms-and then be enforced. When it comes to alcohol consumption, putting responsibility back in parents’ hands would better serve our youth, college campuses, roads and society in general.
Mr. McAloon too blithely dismisses the anguish and financial costs not only to the teen but also innocent victims when he states that “pegging the drinking age at 18 would likely result in more drunken-driving tragedies, but a certain amount of risk is involved in every attempt to impose legal limits on behavior.” Unfortunately, many 18-year-olds don’t have the discipline and moral fiber of those in the military, and allowing them to drink at 18 wouldn’t be doing them or anyone else a favor. Yet, I agree that if we can entrust 18-year-olds with our defense, they should be permitted the other perks of adulthood. So, my solution would be to allow anyone with a valid military ID permission to buy alcohol. This would give military men and women the respect they deserve without raising the risk to others.
I agree with Mr. McAloon 100%, and so did Gen. Charles H. Bonesteel III while commanding the Eighth Army Troop Support Command in South Korea.
I was stationed in South Korea with the 728 MPs from 1966-69. Gen. Bonesteel told us that any man in uniform could drink, and there was no need wasting our time to see how old they were. By being in the Army, he said, “they had already come of age.”
In fairness, maybe we should change the age to vote, join the Army and drink to 21. That might cause a livelier debate.
Richard A. Fortner
Fort Lauderdale, Fla.