Archive for the 'non-college' Category

Teenage Air Traffic Controllers?

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently announced that it would award $100,000 bonuses to people willing to take jobs as air traffic controllers, in an effort to lure workers to understaffed control centers in New York. The FAA has targeted people as young as 18 in their search for new air traffic controllers by recruiting at high schools and on youth-friendly websites such as MySpace and Craigslist. While training can take at least a year and a half, recruiting employees right out of high school means that we will soon have people as young as 19 and 20 patrolling our skies and looking after our safety.


Ironically, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the FAA are both federal agencies of the U.S. Department of Transportation. While the NHTSA’s take on alcohol-related traffic fatalities promotes a minimum legal drinking age of 21 and claims that under-agers cannot be trusted to drink responsibly, the FAA’s recent recruitment policies seem to say that people as young as 18 can, in fact, be trusted to act with maturity and responsibility.


In other words, the government has determined that 18 year olds are responsible enough to make split-second decisions affecting the safety and lives of millions; however, they are not responsible enough to drink a beer. It doesn’t really make sense to us; be sure to watch this CNN clip and let us know what you think.

[CR] and the National Conference of State Liquor Administrators

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008

The National Conference of State Liquor Administrators held their annual convention this past week in Chicago, and MLDA 21 was a major topic of discussion.  Our very own John McCardell was there to argue towards a lower drinking age, meeting opposition from the American Medical Association and others.  The convention has received a lot of coverage, and we encourage you to check out Fox News and ABC News links for some video clips and more information about the drinking age discussion.


Also, to see a more in-depth interview with John McCardell, and to hear more about [CR]’s position on the drinking age, take a look at this clip from Chicago Tonight on WTTW11, PBS Chicago.

Scare Tactics Used to Prevent Drunk Driving

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

We were shocked to read about last month’s scandal at El Camino high school in

San Diego, CA, where highway patrol officers visited the school one Monday and told students that many of their classmates had been killed in drunk driving crashes over the weekend.  The news frightened students, resulting in a hysterical frenzy in classrooms and hallways as students grieved for 26 of their classmates, who they believed had died.  Later in the day, the “dead” students returned to school, revealing that the entire plan was a hoax that was intended to scare students away from drinking and driving.  School officials claim that scare tactics, like this, are effective in preventing dangerous behavior:  “[Students] were traumatized, but we wanted them to be traumatized,” said guidance counselor Lori Tauber.  “That’s how they get the message.”  However, putting severe psychological distress on students is an unethical and irresponsible way to try and teach a positive message about drinking.  The community would be much better served by trying to teach students about responsible and safe drinking, so that they can make educated choices about drinking and driving.  When a student learns about the consequences of drinking and driving, that knowledge will stay with them for life.  Scare tactics, on the other hand, create fears that can fade over time, possibly leading to dangerous decisions in the future. 

Effects of Stricter Regulations in British Pubs

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

The London subways were a nasty sight on the morning of June 1st due to the impromptu party the previous night, when British teens and young adults celebrated the last hurrah for drinking on public transportation.  The Economist discussed this party and drinking, in general, in a recent article, and noted the changes in drinking patterns of Britain’s youth.  While more teens now report never trying alcohol, those who have tried it are drinking larger quantities, and this is especially true for those 11-13 years old.  Demographic changes have not been drastic enough to explain this shift in drinking behavior, and it is believed that more hostile regulations on drinking in pubs and bars have encouraged teens to move their drinking elsewhere, such as the trains, parks, or street corners.  In pubs, people must behave properly in order to prevent being thrown out, and social pressures and norms tend to keep people in line and behaving according to the status quo.  Supervision and social restraint disappear when teens drink in private and are more free to do whatever they want, get as drunk as they want, etc.  Along with increases in quantity of alcohol consumed, spirits are now more common than ever before.  They also tend to be consumed when teens drink on their own, and not in pubs which often offer more beer and wine. 

We believe that these points echo our own ideas about the drinking age in the U.S. since, just as British young adults want to avoid the strict bars and drink on their own, Americans who cannot enter bars and legally drink also turn to drinking on their own.  Dangerous binge drinking often results, which can get out of control due to a lack of monitoring and supervision at private parties.  Lowering the drinking age could help prevent binge drinking by allowing young adults an opportunity to drink in public settings (bars, restaurants) where they might feel it is more inappropriate to binge drink and get ragingly drunk.  Their behavior could also be better monitored and supervised by others; a bartender is more likely than a drunk friend to cut someone off.

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Recently released alcohol related numbers

Wednesday, February 28th, 2007

The government made available this week new figures from the National Survey on Drug Use for 2004-2005. This survey contains the most recent alcohol use and abuse numbers, that serve as a reminder of drinking practices around the country. Before assessing what the minute shifts may mean, let’s recap some of the pertinent statistics:


For “Minors”:

  • Alcohol use decreased slightly among youths aged 12 to 17 from 17.7 percent in 2003-2004 to 17.1 percent in 2004-2005.
  • In 2005, about 10.8 million persons aged 12 to 20 (28.2 percent of this age group) reported drinking alcohol in the past month. Nearly 7.2 million (18.8 percent) were binge drinkers, and 2.3 million (6.0 percent) were heavy drinkers. These figures have remained essentially the same since the 2002 survey

For Young adults:

· Young adults aged 18 to 22 enrolled full time in college were more likely than their peers not enrolled full time (i.e., part-time college students and persons not currently enrolled in college) to use alcohol in the past month (64.4 v. 53.2), binge drink (44.8 v. 38.3), and drink heavily (19.5 v. 13.).

· The pattern of higher rates of current alcohol use, binge alcohol use, and heavy alcohol use among full-time college students than the rates for others aged 18 to 22 has remained consistent since 2002

For Drunken Driving:

· In 2005, an estimated 13.0 percent of persons aged 12 or older drove under the influence of alcohol at least once in the past year

· This percentage has dropped since 2002, when it was 14.2 percent.

So what does all this, and the rest of the NSDUH data, mean?
First and foremost, binge drinking and heavy drinking slightly increased or did not change. While drinking rates (once in the past month) declined slightly across the board, the more concerning figures (binge drinking and heavy drinking) did not. These figures are an extension of a previous identified movement to the extremes in drinking behavior across the country. This means that increasingly large numbers of people are abstaining from alcohol altogether, just as there is an increase in the rates of heavy drinking. While the effects of this shift (from bell curve to barbell) are less apparent in older age groups where there are significant numbers of moderate drinkers, the same cannot be said for young adults. The polarization of drinking behaviors are quite apparent and appalling on college campuses. This recent blog post on ProgressiveU shows the opinion that most students share regarding college drinking behavior.

A second finding, also pertinent to the previous discussion, is the data suggesting a growing divide in the behaviors of college students relative to their non-college attending peers. While heavy drinking continues to increase amongst college students, the rates in their non-student peers is both lower and steady (See the Graph). Why these differences exist are quite interesting but are not particularly well understood. However, to treat someone as immature, only allows them the justification to act immature. If this holds as an explanation for the differences in consumption behaviors between students and non-student young adults, then it should apply more generally to the differences between America’s infantilized youth under the 21 year-old drinking age relative to the drinking behaviors of young adults across the world.