Lowering the drinking age to 18 — Will that stop the drinking abuse?
It's been nearly a year since a student from New Jersey attending Penn State died during a night of excessive drinking at a fraternity party. New charges were filed by prosecutors against additional students this week holding them responsible for helping cause Timothy Piazza's death and covering up the crime.
As a father of a college student in her third year away from home, stories like this are horrifying for sure. The actions of some of the fraternity brothers seem to rise to the level of a criminal prosecution with deleting evidence and refusing to call for medical attention among them. But one of my takeaways from this tragedy is the utter lack of personal responsibility and preparedness that so many kids have when they leave home and venture out into the world.
Perhaps college campuses are looked at as "safe spaces" where bad things won't happen. Perhaps it's about the binge behavior that is so destructive and, in some cases, deadly.
What kind of a moral degenerate protects the beer party at the expense of a dying fraternity brother? Goes without saying that the family of the dead young man has every right to be outraged. Beyond that issue though, hundreds of campuses across America in hundreds of fraternity houses were likely engaged in similar destructive binge drinking and hazing on the same night. When will we hold university presidents criminally liable for the behavior that goes on as a "normal" part of campus life? Remember, the legal drinking age is still 21.
Perhaps one of the simplest solutions can be taken from our European cousins when it comes to drinking. In Europe where the drinking age is 18 or lower, they simply do not have the same crisis of underage abuse of alcohol. One reason is that the kids are taught how to drink properly, learn their own limits and not engage in self destructive behavior to pass through a right of passage.
If we can control the binge by teaching kids how to appreciate and enjoy alcohol, return to a moral code that would have "brothers" actually looking out for each others interests and at the same time hold education institutions accountable for tragedies, perhaps we can look to prevent the death of the next Timothy Piazza. Until then, I hope and pray that the Piazza family finds some peace.
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