Legal Age 21 Forces Drinking Behind Closed Doors
The 21 year-old drinking age has successfully banished alcohol consumption from public view and public places. But there is no disputing the reality that alcohol consumption continues, often with life-threatening consequences, in clandestine, remote settings away from supervision by parents, residence life staff, and other adult authority figures and usually beyond the effective reach of law enforcement. Proclaiming a campus, or a household, "dry" may seem a virtuous act. But too often such pronouncements simply uproot and transplant the practice and, as a result, worsen the problem and heighten the risk. Research has found both a growing number of college students choosing to attend parties off-campus and a corresponding increase in the number of students consuming five or more drinks while there. Drinking that is not out in the open, and drinking that requires one to find a dark corner or travel to a remote location, is drinking that puts not only the drinker, but also the innocent citizen, at greater risk.