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Should the legal drinking age in Australia be raised?

by Therese B (follow)
Social (107)      Ethics (86)      Law (27)     


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With the increase in the amount of drunken violence that has been headlining the news lately, is it time that the legal drinking age was raised to 21?

There have been calls from the public recently that raising the drinking age is a start in curbing the drunken street violence that has been shown across our TV screens in recent months. What do you think?

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I guess it is a little difficult when people can fight for our country at the age of 18, and then be told they aren't old enough to drink. In my younger days, the drinking age was 20 however if you were a member of the armed forces you were permitted to drink. I used to "enjoy" myself many years ago when out on the town but certainly don't remember any of what I see on the TV these days i.e. Brawling by guys and girls in the city, girls passed out drunk on the street ( go to Eagle St in Brisbane Fri/Sat nights). I'm sure instances occurred but not on the scale we see today. If they don't start addressing the issue by raising the drinking age, maybe the authorities need to have a lower tolerance of this behaviour & make people more responsible for their actions and have harsher penalties for anyone involved in violence of this type as being drunk should certainly not be an excuse.
The age of the drinker is irrelevant, its the attitude of the drinker. In European countries wine is placed on the dinner table and children younger than 18 are able to drink. They learn a sensible and educated approach to drinking alcohol. The attitude toward alcohol in Australia for many is simple, get smashed, and that attitude is still embedded in men and women way beyond 18 years old. Education is needed. On a side note, it is somewhat sad that a couple of public incidents ovverhyped by the media has been needed to get people talking about this. I would suggest there are thousands of children and women and perhaps even men who are being abused pbysically and mentally in their homes by violent and abusive alcoholic family members. The band aid measures being brought in by the state government should be just the tip of the iceberg for what needs to be a total shift in society attitude.
I think 18 is still ok, although we could follow suit with America and make the age 21.
I think the drinking age in Australia should be lifted to 21, maybe even more. The alcohol-fuelled violence in Sydney, that we hear so much about on the news, is getting out of hand. People clearly are not getting the message to drink responsibly. Something has to be done, and unfortunately this appears to be one of those cases were the idiotic minority ruin it for the majority.
by Vee
Your so right, as I was saying to Jennifer if we make those 3 extra years law, that drinking is 21....so many parents 'will' get to keep their kids for life! that's a fact.

by jonaja
That's it. It's about time the government do something about it.
by Vee
No.

It is mandatory for all school kids to remain in school until 18 unless completing an apprenticeship or going straight into a job via permission.

So why don't we have a compulsory ALCOHOL EDUCATION program in place across the nation, just like you must complete a course about PLAGARISM prior to HSC (Year 11 and 12).

Educate, don't punish.
Is it really? I thought you could just leave school at 16 if you wanted to.

Alcohol education sounds like a good idea.
Yes, definitely. I think 18 is still way too young. The brain actually isn't fully developed until mid to late twenties.
Absolutely your correct.
by jonaja
You're correct Lu Lu - I just saw something on TV lately that said that exact same thing - brains are still developing at the age of 18. Interesting point.
I wrestle with this question all the time, especially when you hear about another one of these "coward punches". I was watching the Project the other day and they said that over 60 people (most likely men-if you cna call them that), have died in the past year alone from these cowardly attacks. Raising the age limit will only send these people underground. They'll find a way to get the alcohol if they want it badly enough. I have a 19 year old daughter and I am on edge everytime she says she's going out with friends to "party". I know she's fairly sensible, but you can't control what other people do around your children and unfortunately you can't keep them safe forever. That's just the way it is now.
I get so angry when I hear about another innocent person taken out by a low-life scumbag who can't handle their alcohol. I can't even call them people, because they don't deserve to be called a person and it's not fair to animals either to refer to them as animals. I strongly feel that if these "things" kill another person with a punch/fight, they should get a life sentence themselves. If they take a life, they should forfeit their own freedoms/rights and be put in jail for the rest of their miserable lives with no chance of parole. And if they cause permanent physical/mental damage to another person, they should be responsible for that person's medical/living/lost earnings for the rest of their victim's life. When are these gutless judges going to take a stand and actually jail one of these scumbags for a decent sentence (50 years or more sounds close)? They're so out of touch with community sitting in their ivory towers and looking down on everyone else. Will it take one of their own loved ones to be hurt or killed before they wake up to themselves?
As for education, I don't know if teenagers really want to know the consequences of getting hammered. I hear horror stories from my 17 year old daughter about parties she's gone to where some of the girls get absolutely smashed and are throwing up and generally making idiots of themselves which usually end up on UTube. I know this has been going on for a while now, but I just think it seems to be getting worse and worse for each generation that comes along. I don't understand why kids especially feel they "need" to get absolutely s***face drunk everytime to have a good time. It just stuns me. I feel sorry for the poor cops, ambos and doctors/nurses who have to put up with these idiots on a daily basis. I think if these idiots want to do this crap week in, week out and end up in an emergency room tying up valuable medical staff and equipment because they can't handle their alcohol intake, then they should be made to pay for it and if they're not in any immediate danger, put them at the back of the queue at emergency waiting rooms. This is self inflicted and not fair to genuine emergency cases. Mandy E.
Well said and I'm sure you echo the thoughts of many people out there. Especially about the judges being out of touch and the inappropriate sentences given to some of the dirtbags out there. I don't have kids but I can imagine how worrying it must be for parents these days when their children are out & about partying & drinking.
Let's compare with other places that have 21yo restrictions
I think 18 is still ok. When I went to America in my youth, under 21's were still drinking, but the law kind of forced the issue underground. So lots of youngsters were still drinking, but doing so through having to lie and having to sometimes go to dubious parties and places to do so. I agree that the street violence is appalling and something needs to be done but I'm not sure the age limit is the way to go. Maybe zero tolerance on violence, harsher penalties and more policing of known trouble spots could help abate the issues. It's likely a problem needing multiple solutions.
I think it's not the age, but the drinking etiquette more that needs attention. I have seen 18 year olds and 30 year olds act pretty much the same when highly intoxicated, so I think there needs to be restrictions on stuff such as being cut-off from the bar, or even provide a class in the final year of high school (Year 12) about how drinking is enjoyable as a social activity, but it needs to be done in limits, or serious consequences might unfold. People need to be aware of these instances from an early age so that it can instill the value of behaving yourself in public when drinking.
No. It makes no sense to say that someone at eighteen is old enough to marry, vote, join the army or be prosecuted for an offence as an adult but not old enough to drink. Either you're old enough to be responsible for your actions or you're not.

A legal drinking age of 21 hasn't done anything to stamp out or even reduce underage drinking in the USA. Quite the opposite actually.

I don't think raising the drinking age would help curb alcohol related violence at all. Maybe we need to look at other measures like changing laws about pub and club opening and closing times, more campaigns of public awareness about alcohol related violence, and figure out what the root cause of an increase in drunken violence (if there is one at all and it's not just a media beatup) is.
Those 3 extra years make a huge difference, as I have seen with my 3 sons.
Two started to drink at 18....and if my boys had been 21 , I would know they would have been far more mature.
I was very upset, to see what they got up too.18 is not a mature age.
by jonaja
If the drinking age is raised, the age of majority should be raised so as to be consistent.

I understand why you don't want teenagers drinking, I just don't think it's realistic. Raising the legal drinking age doesn't stop them.
It's not just me who thinks this way, one has to have teenagers to fully understand the impact on families....3 extra years is a huge difference when we talk about young people.And, that they will be breaking the law if they drink.
Any Emergency ward in and hospital will tell of the horrific accidents caused, even just with drink driving in young people.Not to mention the on-street 'glassing'.I wouldn't want any parent, to have one of their children experience that, and see what drinking for a young person of 18 does to a family.If it is illegal,many parents will get to keep their kids for a lifetime that's how those 3 years are so valuable.
by jonaja
I don't have teenagers but I was one myself not so long ago, so I've seen other teens do plenty of stupid things and done a few myself. Kids already break the law by drinking under age. I don't think that raising the legal age would change that at all.
Maybe up it to 21 years but I think it might be a bit like prohibition, might just go underground.
by fran.
3 extra years to grow-up! make a HUGE Difference, believe me.
by jonaja
Changing the legal age for people to drink will only create a new group of law breakers.
Street violence can only be managed by controlling the violent video games and movies that re program the thinking pattern of our youth to believe that you can do outrageous things without any consequence.
Games and movies glorifies the same type of violence we are seeing on our streets. The only difference is we canít restart the game with the same players as in real life we are attending a funeral.
Censorship of video games and movies is the answer along with a campaign to repair the damage already done to the minds of our youth.
Perhaps when the person is killed in the video the game the software should destroy itself permanately to bring home the truth to our youths.
The sport of cage fighting and boxing must be outlawed.
These are the sort of changes required.
Regards from Kym

I agree completely with your first sentence. Not so much with the rest. There was violence long before there were video games or movies. I've read research that suggests that there is no correlation at all between playing violent video games and committing acts of real world violence. There is a link in that already violent people are often drawn to violent games, but nothing to show that the games make people violent.
The reply by Jennifer to kstew relating to the impact of video games and movies where she states research does not support the view that they damage or influence the mind completely fails when you consider that retail companies spend millions of dollars presenting images and commentary to convert the way we think. If it did not work they would not spend the money. This simple fact that cannot be denied.
As for the research if you understand the way research is funded you will quickly understand that the researchers are often paid by the interest groups who need to protect massive company profits. Given that the profits generated by these games and movies are so huge the number cannot be calculated it should clear to any person that this group can afford to employ people to create research that will protect their profits.
The outcome of research is often the outcome desired by the highest bidder and rarely represents the truth.
All media is funded by advertising so to say it does not have an impact on the human mind is simply wrong.
Regards from Kstew


by kstew
I didn't say that advertising doesn't have an impact on the human mind. Of course it does. Advertising of video games is designed to sell video games, and it succeeds. However, it doesn't follow from that that video games cause an increase in violence. They might, but I don't think it's a good idea to blame them without real evidence. For starters, you need to show that there actually has been an increase, when it may be that there is the same amount or less violence now as there has been historically but the media makes us more aware of it now. There has been plenty of violence in history. To pick a random example, there were the Mohocks of 18th century Paris, rich bored young men who went around disfiguring people with swords for fun. No video games needed.

It's throwing the baby out with the bathwater to dismiss all research because you think it might be biased/paid for by commercial interests. Where else will you get information to make policy decisions if you deny all research? It doesn't seem like a very good plan to just guess or make things up. What makes you think your guess is better than someone else's?
a few years ago a friend of my son (age 17) went to a drive thru liquor outlet and the older friends he was with got a couple of bottles of vodka. They drank the lot and the friend ended up in hospital with alcohol poisoning. His parents never knew what he was up to until they got a call. Kids that age are airheads and think they are invincible. It wouldn't matter what age they were they will find a way to get alcohol. Education is a start, drumming sense into them is hard.
Good question! I'm not sure that raising the legal age would change it except perhaps by raising the age of the offenders. Alcohol sometimes makes people violent. Raising the legal age won't stop that effect, but perhaps might put it off for a few years.
I don't think raising the age of drinking is the answer its those who supplies the alcohol and the person who drinks it. I think its a parents responsibility to educate there children.
I have two teenager that both my wife and I talk about this all this time to them they both know that what ever they do wrong its them who is accountable for there behaviour.
I think more than just raising the legal age needs to be done to curb the issues. I have heard several ideas:
1. raise tax on cheap alcohol
2. close the bars earlier
3. increase legal age (as suggested here)
4. educate people
5. increase medical cost for alcohol related treatment

Alcohol related violence is a menace for the whole society.
The violence is perpetrated by people older than 21, they just happen to be killing random 18 year olds...could easily be random 45 year olds...I don't think so, though the schoolies craziness may not be so bad...probably would though.
It won't matter what age you make it if it's not policed. Kids are drinking at 15 years or even younger. How is that happening when the age is 18?
Education might be the key, more emphasis on the consequences. You can't make a law enforcing better behaviours, in the end it's the choices each person makes.
.
I do not think raising the drinking age would make a difference. Most of these drinkers are loading up at home before they go out.
Raise the age to 21 and make it compulsory for military conscription from the age of 18.
I think it should b increased
No. Once you're 18 you're old enough to make your own decisions and face the consequences. If we raised the age, then maybe we'd start to question that age too.

Leave it alone and make people learn themselves.
I think drunken violence is a social issue and not really related to young drinking. if it was raised there would just be more youth related unlawful binge drinking in homes at parties and where ever else. I think the larger issue is around role models of responsible alcohol consumption overall and public spaces that are well monitored and more and more social education. We drank a lot in my day but had never heard of King Hitting and such like. These issues are linked to other social issues and not necessarily the availability of alchohol. Unemployment, broken families, traumatised teenagers, mental health undiagnosed or treated etc.... raising the legal drinking age would just be a bandaid
I think it should; although it's not necessarily the young that are always messing around in our cities we need to keep them informed and safe.
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