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First of all, it is a well-known fact that Fake IDs are a common problem in the US exactly due to the fact that they are strongly related to behavior problems, thus, it is clear that underage children and adolescents are the subjects in this matter, as the clients of Fake ID providers.
1. Where do students get them?
Fake IDs are the closest thing to a ticket to freedom when you have different restrictions made by the law, so you are able to perform multiple activities without worrying about them, especially being underage.
The main reason students constantly get this kind of documents done is to buy alcohol; all over the US, the age minimum to drink alcohol legally is 21 years old.
However, since adolescents by the age of 16 are starting to be grown adults, they have much more freedom to do different activities without their parents or tutors permission, it is very common that people around 16 and 20 start drinking, using drugs and many more that are restricted by the law in order to protect them.
According to SFWeekly, the traditional way to get a Fake ID is through the black market, in which there is a high probability to find it at a very low cost.
However, now that we live in a digital age everyone has a website, and it is much easier to find a Fake ID wherever, thus, anyone is able to do them as technology provides multiple tools to do so, so it is possible to find a document of this kind as low as $100 to even $3000 (SFWeekly, 2019:2).
As a matter of fact, many of these providers are located in China, where the quality of the document is so high that it is nearly impossible to know they are fake, and that just brings a lot of consequences and risks to students, alcohol sellers and the US government and society in general.
Furthermore, not everyone buys their own Fake ID, many people also ask a friend or others to borrow their legal ID, they learn by heart the information on the document and pretend to buy alcohol, enter a bar or local with that identification.
When people look very similar to the picture shown in the ID it is harder to find out if it has been passed out, but business owners have come up with different ways to check if that is the real owner of the ID, when in doubt.
A “Her Campus” survey found that almost 55% of the people surveyed had or currently have a Fake ID, and almost 47% had passed along an ID card after turning 21 (Collins, 2012:6-7).
2. The Pros & Cons
The consequences of using a Fake ID are strongly related to the risks of drinking underage, which affect the same underage drinkers, their families, the businesses that sell that kind of substances, the government and the US society.
Starting off with the Fake ID users, drinking underage has several risks and problems associated with behavior problems that are developed along with puberty and the transition between adolescence and adulthood, such as addiction, depression, academic underachievement, poor cognitive development and it also affects memory through time.
Now, for businesses that sell alcohol, selling to underage people has caused numerous suspensions and revocations of liquor licenses, which has a huge impact on the market and only takes down people that want to do their job properly.
In this case, owners, investors, managers, employees, suppliers, and delivery companies are also negatively affected by this kind of behavior (Dworak, 2018:1).
Overall, the negative impact it has is much higher than the positive, since there is no possible good outcome for this kind of actions; in many occasions, underage people buy Fake IDs to get access to weapons and guns which are used to commit crimes, threaten people and as seen recently, mass shootings in public places or schools are commonly done by adolescents with many behavior problems.
3. Why do students drink underage?
As children start growing up and turning into adolescents, and then into young adults, as they seek independence, new risks and challenges, drinking is the closest one to them and also one of the most attractive.
The main reasons why students start drinking are related to peer pressure, stress and the same desire for independence, and it is one of the major problems the US is affronting right now.
Taking into consideration a study made by the National Institute On Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIH), 5,000 people under 21 years old constantly diedue to underage drinking (NIH, 2006:2).
Finally, it has been proved that Fake IDs are not only used by adolescents that want to party or drink, it also allows people that do not fulfill the requirements to have a weapon to have free access to it, causing massive damage to the state by forging their identity in both cases.
This is not only done by teenagers, since buying Fake IDs or passing them on is common when tourists visit other countries and when organized-crime groups pretend to perform terrorist acts. Even though the police have tried to put a stop to this situation, it only gets worse due to how easy it is to get it through the internet.
According to Dworak and a study made for Real Identities, LLC “economic costs associated with alcohol problems in the US total more than $175 billion annually” (2018:7). Taking this into consideration, it is evident the impact this situation has on society and the US economy.
Agreeing with the argumentation exposed above, it is important to think about how this situation can be abolished through education and not creating more regulations to the access to this kind of products (alcohol); 16 to 20 year-olds are in a constant learning process that needs them to be on the best conditions mentally and physically, so family-school education regarding this behavior is important to decrease the number of adolescents that buy or use Fake IDs and also, those that ingest alcohol and other substances at such a young age.