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acceptable drinking age?

 
 
fishin
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Nov, 2003 09:06 pm
fbaezer wrote:
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.


IMO, this is the largest part of the whole thing. We build up a "mystique" (not sure if that's the right word but the closest I could think of at the moment!) around alcohol that just doesn't exist in other parts of the world. If the mystery/thrill were taken out of consuming alcohol teens wouldn't try so hard to consume more than their buddies.

I don't remember what the laws were in Germany when I was living there but I do recall "kids" (mid-teens) in bars pretty often sipping beers. They never inhaled them like you might see teens doing here.
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Mr Stillwater
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Nov, 2003 09:34 pm
Yeah, the 'drought or flood' mentality can take over and it encourages the young to 'binge drink'. Australia has a legal drinking age of 18, across the whole country (I will qualify it by saying that there are parts of the Outback where it is totally prohibited).

I personally favour a more 'European' approach where children grow up accustomed to having wine and beer around them and aren't made to think that their first drink will be SO sinfully bad that they will be hooked for life.

BIG QUALIFIER - Australians are an alcohol-consuming culture and you don't need to go very far to find the results of excess and addiction. You can't ban and you can't make it compulsory either, I will spend the rest of my life letting my children know that there is good and bad there and if you're not happy, it is not necessary for a happy life.
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safecracker
 
  1  
Reply Sat 29 Nov, 2003 12:27 am
Depends on the child, I could buy booze in both the states and Canada when I was 13 because I looked older. I didn't get in trouble over it I drank with friends at my house or theirs and kept out of trouble for the most part but as at any age drinking can cause adiction that would be my worry with anyone and drinking not their age.
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sat 29 Nov, 2003 01:08 am
I do think I was raised in the US in a no drink or binge drink culture. I gather that in italy children can have watered down wine at table on some occasions. As far as I have seen there, and fbaezer has been there much more than I, being drunk is socially tacky, where as here in the US, tying one on has a certain bravado glamour, or whatever the word, until such time as it doesn't because of the problems from the excess behavior. (Ahh, see the Boys Night Out thread...)

The italian culture, again as far as I know it and I am sure it ins't across the board, sees wine and the occasional spirit as, frankly, part of the digestion process, as enhancing the meal and helping to speed it on its way, perhaps with a little digestivo afterwards. People go to bars all day long, but they also serve coffee, breakfast sweets, sandwiches, and sometimes gelato. Rarely do you see liquor over 5 years of age on a bar shelf. Again, there to be visibly drunk is to be ugly, as opposed to be funny or be humored.

Perhaps this is a bit of a rosy view, but is quite true from what I have seen.
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MisterEThoughts
 
  1  
Reply Sat 29 Nov, 2003 04:02 am
I think the limit should be 18 but then the problem is drunk driving big huge problem so I don't know i mean i am 18 and i would be smart enough not to drink when i drive. I drink with my parents and they don't care much but they do care about drugs and smoking they let me have like 2 or 3 beers it's not to bad.
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safecracker
 
  1  
Reply Sat 29 Nov, 2003 08:28 am
I have spent alot of time in Genoa with my wifes family and I agree with your view on things ossobuco. MisterEThoughts I have 1 big problem with what you said, your saying that because your mature enough to drink it must be at the age of 18 that everyone else is mature enough to drink. I think there should be a test designed to test judgement and judgement under the influence not a set age for the whole population.
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Piffka
 
  1  
Reply Sat 29 Nov, 2003 01:33 pm
Hi Safecracker! Have you been away or have I just missed your posts?

That's a funny thought about a test for judgement. How many chronologically mature adults would pass?
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safecracker
 
  1  
Reply Sat 29 Nov, 2003 03:47 pm
I've been at ft. benning doing some military things, I don't believe many "adults" would pass it would solve alot of problems.
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Piffka
 
  1  
Reply Sat 29 Nov, 2003 04:28 pm
Nice to see you again.

Heehee, I'm wondering if *I* would pass this test. What sort of questions, hmmm?
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Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Mon 1 Dec, 2003 09:34 am
In Germany, like in Switzerland, the legal drinking age is 16 for wine and beer, 18 for anything harder, and no enforcement in private rooms. I would be surprised if traffic accidents due to drunken juvenile driving were any more common in Germany than they are in America. Worse, American laws seem to encourage, not discourage immature attitudes towards drinking. And I was shocked when, during the farewell party at the end of a student exchange in Oregon, the 18 year old Americans drowned themselves in booze like German 14-year-olds. They clearly had no idea what they were doing. I was even more shocked when at one point, policemen knocked on the door and controlled whether any sub-21 year olds were drinking alcohol. The strategically invited college students suddenly had 3 glasses apiece, but somehow the police bought it. I guess they'd been teenagers once too, so they looked the other way.

In my opinion, no country I've seen has so little confidence in its young people as the 'home of the brave'. And no country I've visited has the police snooping around at private parties in private homes -- except 'the land of the free.'
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Piffka
 
  1  
Reply Mon 1 Dec, 2003 09:43 am
Sad commentary Thomas. What is wrong with us?
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kitchenpete
 
  1  
Reply Mon 1 Dec, 2003 10:40 am
I have to agree with Thomas.

Britain has not got a great reputation for "sensible" drinking at any age but it seems more reasonable to allow drinking from 18 (when just about everything else is allowed) than 21.

The thought of a British university without drunk students is totally bizarre!

Personally, I started with the occasional glass of wine with family at about 11. Actually, I drank at pubs more often around 15/16 than I do now. It was an escape from boarding school but taught me how it felt to drink 1, 2, 3 or more pints of beer.

Of course I was sick a few times and learned from it but I managed to develop a sense of my "limit" for sensible operation.

As for police raiding private parties - my only experience of the police showing up at a party is if the music is too loud and therefore disturbing neighbours.

UK police won't care about underage drinking - they've got better things to do!
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yeahman
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Dec, 2003 08:44 am
The rapper 2pac once said something like "They can send me off to fight and die for this country, but they still won't let me buy a beer."

I think, if there's one thing this topic has proven is that people under 21 in the US, still drink! I started drinking heavily at age 16, the same year I started driving. I've gotten in plenty of accidents but never while intoxicated until I turned 21.

In New York there is a zero-tolerance law. Anyone under 21 with a blood-alcohol level of over 0.02 can have their license suspended until age 21. That law was very effective within my circle of friends. But once we turned 21, drinking and driving became a routine.

I don't think we can underestimate the drinking and driving problem in the US. Everybody in the US drives everywhere. That's a whole other problem to itself. Also it's no exageration that kids these days have a far easier time buying drugs than buying alcohol though both are easily accessible.

As for how my parents dealt with it. Of course we had the holiday wine. My parents were conservative but they were conservative Catholics. Festive drinking of wine was Christ's commandment.

Once in high school my parents understood the occassional drink with friends at parties. I'll never forget one of the last days of high school (I was 17 years old). I wanted to borrow the car to go out with friends. They asked me if I was going to drink. I said, "Maybe a beer or two." They knew me better than that. They didn't let me borrow the car but called me a cab, gave me $300, and told me to go drink as much as I wanted. If my parents were not so understanding, I would simply have lied to them and taken the car to go drink.

Once in college, at age 18, I started drinking with my dad. I think most parents in the US, and almost all parents who grew up outside the US, understand drinking in college.
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cavfancier
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Dec, 2003 08:48 am
2pac, hardest working dead man in show business.
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LiLsmurfs44
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Mar, 2004 07:52 pm
i agree with you on the drinking age in switzerland
I totally agree on the drinking age over in switzerland!!I personally think that it is not fair that people that are mature enough can't drink...there are low-life 21 year olds out there that are so immature it's not even funny...I think they should allow teens to have "social" drinks with their friends. Very Happy Arrow By the way, I live in America!
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kitchenpete
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Mar, 2004 04:23 am
Lilsmurfs44,

Are you Swiss? If so - Gruezi wohl, wilkommen bei a2k - Benvenuto & Bienvenue! I've spent several months in Switzerland, over the last 5 years, in fact I spent 2 weeks in Zurich at the beginning of this month.

If you're not Swiss - "welcome", anyway.

KP
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Mar, 2004 05:52 am
Yes, "Santé - pröschtli! Wöukomme!" or just welcome, as Pete already said
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Relative
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Mar, 2004 05:55 am
Hi!

When I was a minor we had no drinking laws. OTOH, you could only get a driver's license at 18 years old. We have some drinking laws in effect now - minors under 18 shouldn't be able to get a drink, but that's only cosmetic, and in practice you can go to a night club (if they let you in) and drink yourself to death.
We have the mentioned 'wine culture', only those who think it consists of a glass or two after the meal are mistaken. That's a snob's wine culture. The real wine culture involves drinking quite a lot of wine, usually in a wine cellar at your neighbour or a friend.
See, we are a very small country(2 million), but we have more than 10.000 wine cellars, and possibly even much more. In regions where grapes grow, almost everybody has a small piece of land and makes own wine. It's like a national sport.

We have a lot of alchoholics (we're in the top five in the world I believe with Ireland just behind us..Wink ), but I believe this problem kicks in at middle age. Our minors are cool, and usually have a period of heavy drinking in their life, but that's allright.

When I was a minor, not only we didn't have a licence, we didn't have a car and no parent would borrow a car to a minor, most not even to an older child. Some had small motorcycles though.
In cities, we could use public transport, and in villages just walk or use motorcycles.

We have problems with car accidents, but this relates to many other factors - very fast cars, small and winding roads, and driving culture.
We have a problem with the 'western culture' coming to us. Guns, drugs, gangs,crime - when I was a minor I could be left aqlone to wander the streets of our capital city, totally drunk, in the middle of the night, and there was really no danger. Girls could do it. I've done it regularly to get home after 'a social event'. Nowadays it's becoming more dangerous because of the mentioned problems. It's still quite safe here - much more so than in any other European capital - and it's a small place (400k people).

The point is, everything is interconnected. In US, looks like minors have to use cars to socialize, and they shouldn't drink because of that. Also, they have access to guns, and shouldn't drink because of that. They don't enjoy a wine culture society to learn to drink in a family environment, and that's a minus too.
In the end, we have more alchoholics, more car accidents, more suicides and much much less crime and shootings. Probably this relates to other factors.

When I was a minor, I drank and I smoked. Now I don't do either, but I have a glass of wine now and then with a meal or without. My alco consumption went from two liters of wine per week to one glass per week. And this is typical for middle class city folks around here. Then there are lots of people whose only sunshine is drinking, as they see it, and it relates to social problems, not to their history of drinking as minors - I know some personally.
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Relative
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Mar, 2004 06:00 am
I apologize to Irish chaps; they are actually before us on the drinking ladder. Cheers!
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Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Mar, 2004 11:24 am
The funny thing when I read the first post, I was more shocked to think that 14 year olds were out until midnight than having a drink. As many said, having a glass of wine with family is one thing, going out clubbing at 14 is another. Whether it is legal or not in a country is not the only issue here, it is how the parents of the children handle these situations. For example, teenagers can get fake ids or have older friends buy alcohol for them. So even if the drinking age is 21, you know that younger ones are drinking. If parents bring up children responsibly; teaching them responsible drinking and responsible driving you will have more success with them than whatever the legal drinking age.
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