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Summary and Analysis of “Don’t Make Teen Drinking Easier” by Joseph A. Califano, Jr.

Published in the “Washington Post” in 2003, Califano’s refutation of T.R. Reid’s article argues that the legal drinking age should remain the same because of the negative effects alcohol has on teenagers. He begins by refuting Reid’s contention that the United States’ legal drinking age of twenty-one should be lowered because it creates problems with teens consuming alcohol. Evidence shows European teens are more likely to “use and abuse” alcohol than American adolescents (para. 2). Califano discusses the consequences of teen drinking that include an increased likelihood of immoral and criminal behaviors, depression, suicide, and aggression. Alcohol “seriously damages growth processes of the brain,” affecting youth more so than adults (para. 4). Califano also questions why teens drink. He rejects the argument Reid presents that the legal drinking age is the cause. Reid contends that the problems occur when teens drink because they have to do it in hiding, without supervision. A recent report shows “binge drinking” directly relates to pressures of fitting in and partaking in sexual acts (para. 6). Through advertisement on popular youth programs, the alcohol industry appeals to an adolescent audience. Appealing to teens results in a “good long-term investment” for the alcohol industry as young drinkers are more likely to become alcoholics in the future (para. 7). Beneficially, the majority of youths in the United States support the present legal drinking age. Califano believes that issues of teen drinking must be addressed, beginning with discussing the consequences amongst parents, instead of allowing teens to legally buy alcohol. Califano uses statistics comparing teen drinking in the United States with that in other countries to prove Reid’s argument invalid and to confirm his own view that underage drinking is harmful to the future of our youth. Califano also presents effective evidence via pertinent facts

compared to twenty-one percent of American teens (para. Califano includes another study from 2001.about the effects and causes of teen drinking in the United States. depression. than in other countries where teens drink legally. the Justice Department. A trend of double the American teen drinking rate overwhelms the audience. to encourage the audience to trust him. Califano affirms that the legal drinking age of twenty-one improves society rather than causes problems. The use of comparative statistics refute Reid’s argument that the legal drinking age of twenty-one causes more teen alcohol use in the U. Also. The author continues to prove the data’s credibility through numerous reliable sources. and once again confirms the idea of a twenty-one-year-old drinking age as ideal. Califano persuades the audience to believe that a drinking age of twenty-one prevents problems in the U. which found that only twenty-eight percent of American fifteen-year-olds have been intoxicated twice or more. are more likely to fall behind and have increased risk of social problems. and performing worse academically. compared to fifty-two percent of British teens as well as teens from a wide sample of nations (para. The author uses a credible source. By presenting this data. Califano reinforces his line of reasoning with facts detailing the causes and effects of teen drinking. by the World Health Organization. 2). in addition to similar numbers to previous statistics. while a mere twenty-four percent of American teenagers do. With this effective evidence. In 2001 the Justice Department released a study showing that fifty percent of British teenagers binge drink. rather than producing them. Teen drinkers “perform worse in school. .S. 3). fortyeight percent of British teens consumed alcohol within the past month. The American Medical Association’s research showed that underage drinking could cause irreversible damage and prevent brain growth. stealing. He points to a Rand study that reported that teens that drank regularly had an increased risk of developing dependencies on nicotine and illegal drugs.S.

Cause and effect support uses logical thought processes.suicidal thoughts and violence” (para. and the media geared towards teens. He continues by giving possible reasons why teens drink. probably the most vulnerable aged consumers. Work Cited . which include genetics. By examining the causes and consequences of teenage drinking. contrary to Reid’s claim about prohibition. Califano persuades through appeal to the reader’s concern for teen health and morality. Califano’s last attempt to appeal to the audience succeeds through explaining how alcohol advertisement targets teens. again. The use of reliable sources once again establishes the information to be credible. Califano convinces the audience by appealing to reason. He concludes by listing the influences on teens to drink. 4). Focus groups suggest “binge drinking” is linked to social insecurities and the pressure to be sexually active (para. he uses two highly credible sources to support his position. winning over the audience’s complete opinion of twenty-one as the valid drinking age in the United States. This evidence is especially convincing and credible because. By comparing the drinking ages and drinking rates of the United States and other countries. By mentioning health risks. According to The Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth. stress. social pressure. 6). the author creates an awareness of the fact that fewer problems arise when a country enforces a legal drinking age of twenty-one. There is an emotional pull with this evidence because of the accusations of targeting these “vulnerable” teens. alcohol availability. Califano proves that teens are less likely to consume alcoholic beverages under current United States law. Through excellent argument and persuasion. the alcohol industry targets advertisements towards teen boys through commercials on common television shows. significantly contributing to the debate.

Ed. Seyler. Rpt. . "Don’t Make Teen Drinking Easier. Joseph A.Califano. in Read." Washington Post 11 May 2003. Write An Argument Text And Reader . 2005. N.p.: McGraw-Hill. Dorothy U. 7th ed. Reason. Jr.