Marin County high schoolers engage in regular binge drinking

Marin County high school students engage in regular binge drinking
Underage binge drinking, excessive alcohol consumption under the age of 21, dominates the lives of many teens in Marin County.
According to the Marin County Civil Grand Jury, nearly half of Marin County 11th graders drink alcohol. In addition, one third of these students binge drink, the highest rate in California.
If the drinking age were lowered to 18 or 19, like it has been in 100 other countries, youth would be able to practice safe, responsible, moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages around parents and positive role models.
According to CNN, the adolescent brain is more likely to seek out risk than that of an adult. This means that, under most circumstances, a minor will be more likely than an adult to seek out alcohol during a social situation.
With the drinking age at 21, however, minors banned from bars or pubs will gravitate to private environments like house parties, where peers encourage binge drinking.
States do have the power to lower the minimum legal drinking age. However, the Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 discourages them from doing so. If a state mandates a lower drinking age than the nationwide 21, the state in question loses 10 percent of their federal highway funding.
From a health standpoint, the 21-year-old drinking age in the United States may be a good thing, as the effect of alcohol on the developing brain is immense.
Lowering the legal drinking age would not only leave the maturing adolescent brain vulnerable to the long term effects of alcohol, but would also expose younger and younger age groups to the substance. This “trickle down effect” would have 18-year-olds buying alcohol for high school freshmen and possibly even middle schoolers.
While the obstacles in the way of lowering the minimum legal drinking age are next to immovable, it is still possible to discourage drinking among teens in other ways.
Rene Ayala, varsity boy’s soccer coach, is one of those seeking to discourage high schoolers from drinking without a lower drinking age.
On Ayala’s soccer team, players are bound by a “vow” taken at the beginning of the season. The vow encourages all students, via positive reinforcement, to abstain from all consumption of alcohol or usage of illegal substances during their time on the team.
“It’s all related to understanding that the decisions you make regarding your health and safety are decisions that will directly affect the people you love, and the people that love you,” Ayala said.