‘Just Look at the Parents’ When It Comes to Underage Drinking: SPEAK OUT

See what you had to say about a new study indicating more underage college students drink in Maryland than other states.

Posted by Susan Jenkins (Editor), The Columbia Patch

What do you think can be done to curb underage drinking both on college campuses and in your community?

It was not surprising to many that underage college students drink alcohol but there was a divide among Patch readers about who is responsible for students’ behavior and what should be done to curb the problem.

After a study revealed more Maryland college students under 21 drank alcohol than students elsewhere in the country, Patch did an informal survey of readers on Facebook pages across the state. The study by the Maryland Collaborative to Reduce College Drinking and Related Problems found 83 percent of underage students in Maryland used alcohol in the past year compared to 75 percent in other states.

“It isn't too surprising,” Bob Umberger wrote on Silver Spring Patch’s Facebook page. “I visited a number of campuses solely because of the partying, and that was 45 years ago.”

Some questioned whether the problem was that those under 21 were not obeying the drinking age—or if the law itself should be changed.

“Change the drinking age back to 18,” Sam Wahbe wrote on Towson Patch’s Facebook page. “If they can vote and be in the military they should be able to drink responsibly."

The National Minimum Drinking Age Act went into effect in 1984 and specifically prohibits the purchase and public possession of alcoholic beverages by those under 21 but does not outlaw underage drinking.

“If you read the latest court convictions, nothing has changed much since the age 21 drinking law went into effect two decades ago,” wrote columnist Dennis Challeen of the Winona Daily News. “One survey indicates 80 percent of young people admit to illegal drinking.”

While the problem of underage drinking among college students isn’t new, one reader suggested the study results relied on students across the country being honest about their behaviors.

“Maryland students are more truthful,” Timmy Ruppersberger wrote on Towson Patch’s Facebook page.

Others said that the problem stems from the fact that drinking alcohol is socially acceptable and parents are not guiding their children to make the right choices.

“There is no one to guide this generation,” Christina Thomas wrote on Bel Air Patch’s Facebook page.

“Wish we could raise a generation to believe one can have fun and connect with peers without the abuse of alcohol,” Adele Hajj wrote on Ellicott City Patch’s Facebook page.

“Just look at the parents, every party is about alcohol consumption, or all of our local watering holes. Us over 40 crowd are to blame; we make it glamorous,” Kevin Maivelett wrote on Bel Air Patch’s Facebook page.

“It's socially acceptable, but it’s still a potentially fatal drug,” wrote Christina Marie on Bel Air Patch’s Facebook page. "Beer commercials during all sports games we watch with our kids; why is that ok?”

As part of the study, the University System of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University recommended that colleges ban marketing by beer and alcohol manufacturers at school-sponsored events.

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