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acceptable drinking age?

 
 
hello
 
Reply Thu 20 Nov, 2003 02:08 pm
I am 27 now, and have lived in switzerland my whole life. i recently discovered that over in america, the drinking age is 21 (!). i was just curious as to whether parents, teenagers and other groups agree with this, or think it is a bit extreme. when i was growing up, it was perfactly acceptable for 14 year olds to be out until midnight (not on school nights) in a bar having some drinks together. this is still the case, and in many bars you often see kids from 13-14 upwards having a social drink. the legal age is 16 for beers and wine, and 18 for harder stuff, but its not really enforced. this is how i have always lived and have no problem with, but an american relation that visited recently expressed shock when my 15 year old cousin came in 'tipsy' and with the scent of more than a few beers. parents consider this normal, although most do not particularly agree with it.
sorry for rambling- there is no problem as such, i would just be really interested to hear some opinions on teenage drinking, drinking ages and anything related, from all countries, especially america. cheers!
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Type: Discussion • Score: 12 • Views: 20,412 • Replies: 81
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onyxelle
 
  1  
Reply Thu 20 Nov, 2003 02:13 pm
firstly - welcome,to a2k.


i'm a mom of 2, and i've gotta say that I have a problem with that because most kids, in my experience, aren't great decision makers to begin with - Lord knows the decisions they'd make while drunk. Also - why encourage the ruination (is that a word?!?) of your liver & kidney so young? Drunk driving...all sorts of things I'm thinking...
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Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Thu 20 Nov, 2003 02:14 pm
There are a lot of problems with accidents caused by drunk driving, pregnancies caused by inhibitions erased by drunken teenagers. I see no problem with a child of around 12 being included when a festive glass of wine is poured at a family meal, but a minor should not be out drinking with friends.

I think that 18 is a more appropriate age for a young person to be allowed to drink on the outside. It used to be 18 in most states, but the law was changed because of the drinking involved automobile accidents in persons of that age.
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onyxelle
 
  1  
Reply Thu 20 Nov, 2003 02:16 pm
i'm with phoenix (my previous post stands, but a festive drink at home on occassion & under parental-type supervision is cool)
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Heeven
 
  1  
Reply Thu 20 Nov, 2003 02:34 pm
I was 13 when I first got served in a bar, but then I'm originally from Ireland. Personally I think that is far too young.

If a child of 16 were allowed to drink maybe a glass of wine at home at Christmas time or for other family celebrations, that would be fine. Then at 17-18 they could be allowed to buy alcohol at bars etc. Waiting until 21 rarely happens but I do think good education is the responsibility of the parents and they should monitor what their child does.

About the U.S. - the majority of people drive here because of the sheer size of the country and the distances that people travel to socialize. I remember growing up in Ireland and I was able to walk to most places, or rely on good public transportation to get me to parties and pubs so I never had the issue of driving while drinking. That is probably a big reason that the drinking age is 21 and the driving age is 16. The maturity required to handle a vehicle sober and young is one thing but quite another if a kid of age 16 has little road experience and is drunk on top of that.
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Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Thu 20 Nov, 2003 04:38 pm
America legislates but doesn't do well at fixing the cultural problems. The drinking laws in the US are too strict. What happens is that it drives teenagers to dugs (it was easier for me to buy drugs as a teenager than beer) and dangerous minor-only parties. Drinking is done in dangerous settings because it's illegal.

Other nations have a healthier culture than addresses this much better. Some nations sell alcohol in vending machines in subways and do not have the teenage drinking problems that the US does.

I think the US should lower the drinking age to 18 and raise the driving age to 18. It's unrealistic to expect people to be able to live by themselves, go to college, drive and then not drink. By making it a criminal act I believe it takes away many of the checks and balances and makes drinking more dangerous in the US.
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boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Thu 20 Nov, 2003 04:50 pm
I'm with Craven. The American laws are bizarre.

In my opinion, if you're old enough to vote and join the military, you're old enough to have a drink.

In my state, 18 year old girls can dance naked in a bar for money - bars that couldn't admit them in the door otherwise.

When I was underage it seemed to always be okay for me to order a drink when I was with my parents. (I believe some states still have such rules but I don't know for sure.) My parents were very open minded about allowing us to have a drink or two - or to not have a drink. Because it was never taboo we never felt like we were getting away with something so it wasn't really all that appealing.
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Piffka
 
  1  
Reply Thu 20 Nov, 2003 05:02 pm
We sent our kids who are still "under-age" to other countries when they were 18. Among other things, they experienced first-hand legal drinking. Neither is now a heavy-drinker. I think that we made the right choice, though there are probably some yahoos who couldn't handle it. I've noticed they tend to have restrictive parents whom they resent.

Boomerang -- what a comment on our society that a young girl can dance naked in front of adult males but not be allowed to drink. Grrrrrrrr. In a similar vein, we went to a wedding of kids who were too young to get married (IMO). The father of the bride was happy to let his daughter get married but wouldn't "let" her drink the champagne toast. How screwed up is that?
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Montana
 
  1  
Reply Thu 20 Nov, 2003 05:13 pm
Bookmark
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boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Thu 20 Nov, 2003 05:13 pm
That is screwed way, way up!

I have some relatives that would kill their kids if they suspected drinking. They won't let them watch a TV show that has the barest mention of sex.

But shoot 'em up violence - have at it!
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roger
 
  1  
Reply Thu 20 Nov, 2003 05:18 pm
Good point, Piffka. I spent two years in Germany and the only drunks I saw were, well, not German nationals.
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quinn1
 
  1  
Reply Thu 20 Nov, 2003 05:28 pm
I have to agree with Craven about a change in the driving up to 18/drinking down to 18 thing, Ive thought that since I was younger. However, working here you really need a license and I dont think College could have been more frightful a place if I showed up on my 18th birthday with a new license and legal to drink..it was bad enough we got the drinks anyway and I had driven long enough to know better.
However, I have seen too many 'adults' with the legal right to drink that abuse that priveledge and drive to endanger, repeatedly, just a slap on the wrist. Many 30-50 year olds shouldnt be allowed to either drink or drive.
humm..maybe there is a use for the Massachusetts liquor id afterall.
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Eva
 
  1  
Reply Thu 20 Nov, 2003 08:07 pm
My father had a fully stocked "socially acceptable" bar in our house while I was growing up. My mother didn't drink and my father only rarely did. It was for guests. Remember the '60s?

When I was 10 or 12, my father showed me all the different kinds of liquor in there and invited me to taste whatever I liked. (Just a few drops, enough to see what it tasted like, that's all.) So I tried a few. They were nasty. He told me if I ever wanted to know what something tasted like, just to ask him. He'd rather I learned at home than out at some place where I shouldn't go. This really took all the mystery out of it for me, which was a GOOD thing. My father was a wise man. He knew I was a very curious child.

Our nine-year old travels everywhere with us now. Just a few weeks ago, we were in a fine restaurant in Washington D.C. and ordered a bottle of wine with our dinner. He was curious and wanted to taste it. We mixed a little into his water glass, like they do for the kids in Italy. He didn't really like it, and it wasn't a big deal to him. And that's exactly what we wanted him to think.
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Montana
 
  1  
Reply Thu 20 Nov, 2003 08:26 pm
Eva
That's exactly the way I handled things with my son. He's going on 17 now and has no desire to drink. He will have a glass of wine with me on Christmas though.
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ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Thu 20 Nov, 2003 08:52 pm
hamburger and mrs. hamburger handled it much the same way. I was allowed/encouraged to have a glass of wine at Christmas sometime in my early teens. I still don't like wine some 30+ years after my first holiday sip. I'd rather have a glass of ginger ale.
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Montana
 
  1  
Reply Thu 20 Nov, 2003 09:09 pm
The drinking age here is 19 and I'm willing to bet that my son won't be out doing the town and I'm very pleased with that thought.
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RicardoTizon
 
  1  
Reply Fri 21 Nov, 2003 01:32 am
California's legal drinking age is 21. I have to go to Tijuana, Mexico to party when I was under 21. It is 3 hours of fast driving to get there. When I reached the age of 21, getting drunk has lost its appeal because it is no longer forbidden. I think they should lower the drinking age to 18 and save a lot of California teenagers some trouble.

During our times, we are always looking out for our blonde girls in the group because rumors abound that they are the primary target of white slavers in Mexico. They slip something on their drinks and they wake up further south in a Mexican whorehouse.
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hello
 
  1  
Reply Sat 22 Nov, 2003 10:26 am
If you can drive before you can drink, then there are going to be accidents. teenage drivers that dont drink, will suddenly have some booze, and crash ther car. in places where you can drink before driveing, you can get used to the effects, know your limits, and be a safe driver. this is a bit of a generalisation, but i think you catch my drift...
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fbaezer
 
  1  
Reply Mon 24 Nov, 2003 09:38 am
American laws are absurd.
American teenagers are obsessed with alcohol, because it's prohibited.

Countries with a wine culture are noted for having a low percentage of alcoholics. In those countries, minors drink wine at the family table. You don't "become an adult" because you drink.

In Mexico, you have to be 18 to get into a bar, and 16 (or at least to look 16) in order to buy liquor or cigarettes, but a 14 year old can buy a beer at the stadium and no waiter will tell that a young teenager or older child cannot have a beer or a glass of wine in a restaurant, if s/he is with family.

Oh, and Ricardo Tizon, blonde gringas don't have to worry anymore about urban legends. We have moved the white slave trade to Eastern European girls.
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RicardoTizon
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Nov, 2003 08:55 pm
fbaezer,

Speaking of Eastern European girls. Here in the Philippines there are now many Russian girls or maybe Eastern Europeans working the clubs. They command the highest price and very popular with Filipino Dirty Old Man. Foreigners of the Caucasian kind snobs them.
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