Survey: 40% of Mass. parents believe legal drinking age should be lowered from 21

The survey also found that just over half of parents nationwide had spoken to their kids about drinking.

–Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

Nearly half of Massachusetts parents surveyed for a study think that the legal drinking age should be lowered from 21.

Alcohol.org polled nearly 3,100 parents nationwide, and 40 percent of them in the Bay State were in favor of the measure, according to a press release.

Compared to other New England states, Massachusetts parents were more open to lowering the drinking age. In Vermont and New Hampshire, just 27 and 14 percent of parents, respectively, were open to it. In Maine, it was 20 percent, while in Connecticut and Rhode Island, it was just 11 and 14 percent, respectively.

“The National Minimum Drinking Age Act was implemented across the nation following a large spike in alcohol-induced car accidents in the 1970s,” the release said. “Despite the law being issued, according to the NIH, young people between the ages of 12 and 20 consume one-tenth (11%) of all alcohol consumed across the United States. Many parents have come to the conclusion that playing an active role in their children’s alcohol education will encourage more responsible drinking later in life.”

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But that doesn’t mean all parents are talking to their kids about drinking, the survey found. Nationally, 59% of parents said they’d spoken with their children about alcohol. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration suggests that it’s better to talk with kids about alcohol and that, as they enter their teen years, the likelihood that they’ve already tried it goes up substantially as they get older. While just 10 percent of 12-year-olds said they’d tried alcohol, that number grew to 50 percent by age 15 and then 70 percent in high school seniors.

Those in favor of lowering the drinking age suggest that teens would learn to drink responsibly with their parents and would be less likely to rebel, according to the release.

But those against it say it could affect brain development, which continues into someone’s 20s. This is something cited by the New England Region for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, along with the belief that the current law helps to prevent related traffic crashes.

“This enforcement should include regular monitoring of retail establishments, home delivery services, and internet sites selling alcohol,” the organization said in a statement emailed to Boston.com. “We know that the 21 minimum drinking age has saved about 800 lives per year, according to a 2009 [National Highway Traffic Safety Administration] study ‘Lives Saved in 2008 by Restraint Use And Minimum Drinking Age Laws.’ [Two] out of 3 underage drinking deaths do not involve a motor vehicle.”

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Alcohol.org is a collection of research on addiction and alcoholism, according to its website. It’s run by Recovery Brands, a subsidiary of American Addiction Centers, which provides both outpatient and residential care for addiction treatment.

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