The news site of Miami Palmetto Senior High School

The Panther

The news site of Miami Palmetto Senior High School

The Panther

The news site of Miami Palmetto Senior High School

The Panther

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Liquid Rebellion: The Darkside of Teen Drinking

In the U.S., the legal drinking age is 21 for a reason. Alcohol negatively impacts young people’s maturing brains. Therefore, this law that makes it illegal to drink under the age of 21 is necessary for the health and well-being of young U.S. citizens.

The brain does not fully develop until at least the age of 25; so, drinking at a young age can impair the brain’s development and weaken connections in areas that are responsible for emotional and cognitive functioning. Underage drinking increases the likelihood of teenagers making poor decisions that result in harmful and dangerous behaviors. It can also increase the chances of developing mental disorders such as anxiety and depression. 

Unfortunately, many teenagers across the country find ways around the law to participate in drinking activities. On account of this, while young people from experimenting with alcohol cannot be easily prevented, it can be discouraged, and safer drinking habits can be encouraged. 

Teen drinking has been normalized. It is a topic of discussion that is prevalent in high schools among the student body. This topic of discussion promotes the idea that teen drinking is common and that the consequences are minor. Furthermore, teen drinking is often addressed in a romanticized way throughout television. Television production companies need to come to a halt in the encouragement of teen drinking. For example, the classic TV show “The O.C.”, which is well known largely due to the fun teenage atmosphere portrayed, often includes scenes in which high school students engage in acts of drinking. Viewers’ favorite characters fantasizing about drinking increases the chances of them drinking themselves. 

In the case that kids do drink, adults should create a safe space to ensure safety, rather than judging the idea of experimenting. After all, it is known that strict parents can cause sneaky children. This is because the parents do not provide a safe environment for their children to open up to them with the truth, forcing them to lie and hide things to avoid getting in trouble. Teenagers should always feel welcomed by parents, guardians and teachers to ask questions, even on controversial topics such as alcohol usage. This is important to help them feel respected and cared for. In this, one can hope that the normalization of teenage rebellion and drinking is limited. 

Drinking under the legal age is dangerous because it reduces teenagers chances of learning proper coping techniques to manage stress, such as mindfulness. Instead some opt for what in their mind appears to be an ‘easier’ route to deal with stress and social anxiety. This is why it is significant that kids are aware of the safety concerns that are associated with underage drinking. Other safety concerns include not driving under the influence. Setting a drinking age limit to 21 caused a 16% decline in motor vehicle accidents. 

Thus, it can be assessed that teenage drinking is dangerous and illegal for obvious reasons: to avoid circumstances in which teens may be unaware of their limits and make poor and irrational choices.

Furthermore, it is important to target the intentions behind drinking. Is it simply out of curiosity, and perhaps because you see other people around you doing it? If so, it is to be reminded that there will be opportunities to endeavor on that curiosity after the legal age. On the other hand, drinking to numb pain and feel something different, causes bigger problems that need to be addressed. One should be able to get the same enjoyment through daily activities, without needing the artificial version of it. Another question that should be reflected on, is if drinking is done in social groups exclusively, or if one desires to drink in isolation. If alcohol is being used as a form of self-medication to rid a feeling of discontentment, then once again, that is a bigger issue. These facets of teen alcohol consumption can be signs of addiction very early on. These signs can often be neglected by normalizing teen drinking as a common act of teenagers and curiosity, forming a wall for struggling teens to hide behind. These all point to the underlying dangers of drinking. 

Another common concern about alcohol exposure to young people is that it is often considered a gateway drug. This means that those who try alcohol at such a young age might grow curious to try even more detrimental substances and drugs. For this reason, it is best to wait until you are 21 and can make safer and more educated choices, to try alcohol. At the age of 21, individuals are more responsible and will be better at handling their drinking, and they are less likely to get bored of alcohol and move on to stronger drugs.

Teen drinking is a very serious issue and one that should not be normalized to the extent it is today; but in consideration of this normalization, it is crucial to recognize the underlying mental and physical issues associated with underage drinking, and to act for your well-being to make healthy and smart decisions.

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About the Contributor
Alexis James
Alexis James, Multimedia Photo Editor
Alexis James is a junior and Multimedia Photo Editor. This is her second year on staff, and she looks forward to expanding her writing skills and beginning her journey in photography. Aside from newspaper, James enjoys playing lacrosse, traveling the world and trying new food.