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In Ohio and nationally, adults weigh in on underage drinking

The legal minimum drinking age has been a continued subject of debate in Ohio and across the country, with some feeling the minimum age is too restrictive and others believing that the drinking restrictions play an important role in reducing the rate of car accidents and other problems resulting from underage drinking.

Many parents face the difficult process of deciding whether the legal mandates are the best guidelines for their children, or if other guidelines should be considered. Some parents decide that their children can safely drink alcohol before the law allows.

In doing so, parents are faced with a variety of moral and ethical dilemmas. For example, parents need to decide whether it is okay for children to drink before they turn 21 years of age -- even when federal law prohibits such activity. Parents also need to decide what their role will be, whether they enforce the laws, cite moral or ethical concerns, or -- if they are consenting to underage drinking -- whether they closely monitor underage drinking, allow it in a more permissive fashion or merely turn a blind eye to drinking among minors.

There is also a great degree of social responsibility to be considered, particularly in regards to how underage drinking can affect other parties. Drunk driving resulting from underage drinking is the most serious such complication -- if parents permit their child to drink while underage, does that make them responsible for what follows as a result of that activity? States vary in their interpretation of that.

In the government's estimation, no amount of underage drinking is acceptable, and parental approval does not exempt minors from the legal ramifications of engaging in the activity. In addition to the aforementioned risks, minors also have undeveloped brains that put them at a heightened risk of adversely affecting their cognitive development and functioning.

Source: CNN, "Is underage drinking ever OK?" Allison Gilbert, Sept. 2, 2012

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