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More on alcohol abuse. (Letters).

Just got my copy of University Business and I am ecstatic rereading your Editor's Note, "On the Alcohol Abuse Crisis" [July/August 2002]. I wish I had written the piece.
Research Associate, IRAPP
Morehead State University, Morehead, KY

When I got a third of the way through your editorial, I thought, "Wow, she has a great idea." Lower the drinking age so the parents can socialize their children into proper drinking habits before those children show up at higher education's doorstep. I fear that [the] American society has been contributing to the dumbing-down of children. We let our teenagers remain children until they are well into their 20s. We try to protect them from life's harm, but perhaps inadvertently leave them more exposed. Yet, I think then is a flaw in your logic. Lowering the drinking age to 18 will not, in itself, mean the parents will socialize the children into proper drinking. The parents will probably neglect that aspect of child raising just as they have with the legal age set at 21. You talk about the perception of parents that booze has increasingly become a problem [on campus]. But has it? What are the numbers? Were there more or less alcohol-related deaths, injuries, and rapes on campus before the change of the drinking age to 21? I'm still in favor of lowering the legal age, however. If colleges have drinking problems, then the answer is not in taking away freedoms, but in teaching responsibility. Teaching responsibility needs to be done earlier in a child's life, but I fail to see how changing the drinking age, alone, will accomplish that.
JEFF GERKEN, Office of Institutional Research
University at Albany, SUNY, Albany, NY

Just a quick e-mail to thank you for your astute comments, especially given they will probably upset many. I agree with your thoughts ... We need to teach and instruct children prior to going to college, if we expect them to make sound decisions involving finances, sex, AND alcohol.
Parkland College, Champaign, IL

Right on! I have long held the same opinion, However, I think the magic number should be age 19 so as to keep drinking (legal drinking, anyway) out of the high schools. Thanks for giving us all something to think about.
RICK SMITH, Business and Industry/Recruitment Coordinator
Manhattan Area Technical College, Manhattan, KS

You hit the nail squarely when you identified parental/societal involvement in drinking. We have been deluged with programs to curb drug and alcohol abuse that start in kindergarten, but society negates any benefit by glamorizing and accepting that exact unacceptable behavior. Professional athletes, actors, politicians or other highly visible people who [under the influence] beat their spouses, drive drunk, or use drugs freely continue to make millions and are lauded for their multiple attempts at rehab. We all know that prohibition doesn't work. Instead of making these substances or behaviors an example of rebellion against an oppressive society, we should be using them as examples of foolishness and ignorant risk-taking. It's the level of risk that must be taught and understood. I think we all know the answers; the real challenge is effective communication. Thanks for an insightful editorial.
MAC CHEEVER, Head of Grounds
Rock Valley College, Rockford, IL

Lower the drinking age to 187 ABSOLUTELY RIGHT!! Too many times, parents blame the school systems, the politicians, everyone but themselves. I am in no way saying that schools, government, and society in general should be considered completely blameless. I am saying, it starts at home. I am the adult daughter of an alcoholic. I grew up in the Bible Belt hearing that "drinking is bad," "people should never drink." I started drinking at the age of 12. Luckily through the Grace of God, He gave me an education that taught me I can drink and not have to get drunk. Parents, I beg you to talk with your children. Allow them to learn about alcohol and how to be responsible. We can no longer expect children to become 21 and be adults if we do not help them understand what being an adult means. One aspect of becoming an adult is drinking. Thank you for such a caring article.
DIANA FIELDS, Software Support Analyst
Jenzabar, Inc.
Knoxville, TN
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Publication:University Business
Date:Sep 1, 2002
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