Should the Legal Drinking Age in South Africa be Raised to 21?
Alcohol is a colourless, volatile, inflammable liquid that is found in wines and beers and can have a harmful effect in the human body causing it not to function well; the human brain continues developing until a person has reached his or her mid 20s therefore alcohol’s effect on the brain may be worse among younger people.
The legal drinking age in South Africa should be raised to 21 in order to stop young school children from going to unlicensed drinking establishments (shebeens) to purchase alcohol. There may be debates that it could help but statistics show that even though the legal drinking age could be raised young people would still be able to buy alcohol where there is no support from the community for the prohibition of underage alcohol sales, according to the (World Health Organization) South Africa is in the top 20 of the biggest drinking countries in the world and the third biggest in Africa showing that more than a of drinkers consume at least 60 grams of pure alcohol in one session within a 30- day period.
The use of alcohol by teenagers and young adults is associated with many problems, both individual and the societies they live in (Ewart Smith.M, consumption in young people). The raising of the legal drinking age could make most teenagers become responsible because teenagers now days are irresponsible after consuming alcohol ,they end up finding themselves in situations that they do not have solutions for and later regret themselves . Alcohol has effects that may affect a person mentally and physically leaving one with mental issues and also claiming the lives of families.
Excessive drinking is usually associated with violence and unruly behaviour and this most of the time happens when young people meet to consume alcohol (Rutherford, 1977). The level of alcohol consumption is based on the premise that alcohol serves to decrease a person’s level of self-awareness meaning that is does not allow the person to have a clear perception of his or her personality including strengths ,weakness and emotions in that case alcohol controls your character so that is why the legal age should be raised because I feel like if you older there is a high rate chance that you could control yourself and that there will be limits towards alcohol consumption.
South Africans do not know that alcohol is poison that has lethal consequences which makes your brain slow down from functioning losing your sense of balance and the stomach getting irritated causing vomiting and affecting the control of your breathing .Unwanted pregnancies which most of the time is being associated with teenagers behaving differently after consuming alcohol such as shots of vodka and beers ,also engaging in sexual activities which falls under social problems that we face in the country.
Raising the minimum legal drinking age can have substantial effects on the youth drinking, particularly in reducing levels of drinking and driving, single vehicle, night-time crashes and fatal crashes involving young drinking drivers ( Babor.T, Alcohol: No ordinary commodity) . Drinking alcohol has been described as a component of student culture and as a feature of tertiary education lifestyle therefore it is among the most abused substance in south Africa (Towl 2004:2). One of the things that can lead to teenage consuming too much alcohol is the power of peer pressure which plays a massive role in our societies today; peer pressure is how an adolescent’s behaviour is influenced by other adolescent’s which may lead to serious problems because of a person wanting to fit in a group of people that drink alcohol.
According to Chan and Prendergast (2007:214) they argue that the youth needs to formulate a new identity and establish autonomy from their parents because they become more independent in decision making leading them to go seek personal relationships from alcohol in view of the fact that it gives them value and it ensures their feelings. I think that the government could help create an alcohol free environment, in which a survey was conducted showing that at Purdue university there was a sharp decrease in drinking among young adults from 48% in 2006 to 37.3% in 2009 (Shellenbarger: 2011), if alcohol consumption could drop in such a way then south Africa could have a free alcohol environment.
Even though alcohol could be raised to 21 there is nothing that is going to change because teenagers who are between the ages of 16 and 18 are still going to go to the shops to buy alcohol, the argument could be placed into two perspectives where one would say yes the legal drinking age should be raised and the other saying no it must not be raised because no change will happen among the youth because still underage children would go to alcohol stores to buy it. The government should implement that all the stores that sell alcohol should not let in under aged children and in order for you to purchase the alcohol you should have your ID with you, I think in that way maybe the levels of consumption of alcohol would decrease, when no child who is under 21 cannot buy alcohol.
In conclusion to the legal drinking age being raised to 21 in South Africa I feel that it could give a chance to people to control themselves and also it could impact the lives of the parents whose children are underage because there is a widespread of alcohol abuse in many communities which has led to several cases of domestic violence. We could argue that the raising of the legal drinking age to purchase alcohol will likely have no significant effect on alcohol abuse amongst teenagers, since the current drinking age of 18 is not much of a difference in the country and advertising of alcohol should be banned from the television and radio stations, including newspapers and magazines. While the government does not see what is happening in the country regarding the consumption of alcohol families are being torn apart because of alcohol abuse, there is a wide range of killings amongst people and some are being left imprisoned, if the government does not come up with a plan to minimize the legal drinking age the country will never have peace and also it will never be fixed cause alcohol will be taking over.