Anxiety about "alcohol and youth" has been excited by shocking events and reports. Events are exemplified by multiple deaths of adolescents in automobile crashes after drinking parties. Reports are exemplified by the conclusion, from a national survey, that more than one fourth of youngsters aged 13 to 18 are already problem drinkers. Response provoked by these events and reports has taken the form of proposed or enacted legislation in several states to raise the so-called legal drinking age from 18 to 19, or 20, or 21. The confusion around the alcohol-and-youth problem is manifest in the fact that no one can be sure that raising the legal drinking age will make any difference. The legislation may be tilting at windmills; and it is doubtful even that the windmills exist. (But the legislative windmills are whirling.) The confusion is clearly manifest in the fact that the legal- drinking-age legislation does not deal with a drinking age.
Youth, Alcohol, and Social Policy
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