When the United States enacted a law mandating the age of 21 as the legal drinking age for young people it did so in an effort, government said, to cut down on the number of highway deaths.
States that refused to comply faced the loss of 10 per cent of their annual federal highway appropriation.
So every state eventually raised the age limit and instantly thousands of people began breaking the law because the mandate did not stop underage drinking.
In 2009 Dr. Morris Chafetz, a distinguished psychiatrist and a member of the presidential commission that recommended raising the drinking age, and the founder of the National Institute for Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse admitted that supporting the higher drinking age is “the most regrettable decision of my entire professional career.”
The Observer on Sunday can tell you that underage drinking is already an issue in the Cayman Islands. Raising the drinking age to 21 isn’t going to stop young people from imbibing.
Instead of inventing a law that more than likely isn’t going to be enforced – or if it is, filling up our already overfilled courts with more cases – we should prepare young adults to make responsible decisions about alcohol in the same way we prepare them to operate a motor vehicle: by first educating and then licensing, and permitting them to exercise the full privileges of adulthood so long as they demonstrate their ability to observe the law. Raising the drinking age in the Cayman Islands could cause more problems than it solves.
Anytime you tell a young person – or anyone for that matter – that they absolutely cannot do something it makes that activity even more desirable.
The Observer on Sunday isn’t in any way condoning underage drinking. It should be stopped and the current law of the legal age of 18 enforced. Bar tenders and liquor store cashiers throughout the Cayman Islands should be more diligent about checking the identifications of those who are buying alcohol.
Just to raise the drinking age to 21 is too simple an approach to Cayman’s growing youth alcohol consumption problem.
We have to educate our youth about safe drinking limits and how to access alcohol content strength on what they are desiring to consume. And that education should start at home.