underage drinking is a problem - but much of it stems from the age of legal drinking being 21 imo.
In countries where the legal age to drink is lower, I experienced being introduced to alcohol in a social setting - being 18, 19, 20, 21 and headed off to college or the military and learning "how to drink" from your peers is a disaster - it is a disaster at college and in the military... because the reasons and lessons surrounding responsible alcohol consumption are just NOT THERE.
I grew up in the UK - legal age of consumption 18. But spent time in France and Italy - where children often get a water+wine with dinner - it makes them think they are grown up and starts down the road of drinking socially, not binge drinking - as a teen, I was allowed to drink at meal times (a small glass) - from age 12 or so. Then - with Boy Scouts - once I hit 15-16 - after scouts, the older ones and the scout masters would go to the pub - we'd get to go along (with parental consent) - and have *a* beer - just ONE. Then, after 6 months or so - we'd be allowed to get our 2nd beer... again - the goal was socializing - with alcohol being just part of the experience ... but it meant we were learning that alcohol isn't a binge-drinking tool - or an escape - it is just something you might choose to partake in when you socialize.
The other thing that came out of this - was that I didn't try to "sneak" alcohol - because it wasn't "forbidden". The same argument used to say that if MJ was legal, it wouldn't be as expensive, a criminal enterprise, or taboo - leading eventually to LESS use - holds here because of what I saw with alcohol - friends I grew up with who didn't have exposure to alcohol in the same way, were the ones who would steal it from the liquor cabinet.... I never realized that for years afterwards, but looking back - it's so obvious now.... and those teens I went to school with who boarded at schools (I went home every day because I lived nearby) - they bought and drank in the woods near school... I never did... it simply wasn't taboo - so I didn't care - and of course, these teens weren't under parental influence daily - some of them were thousands of miles away from home - their peers taught them their drinking lessons and those lessons were NOT good as it turns out.
Here in the US - by having the legal age put so far out there, I have seen that our teens head out of the parental sphere of influence in many ways as they are supposed to be getting these lessons - and once that happens - the lessons they self-learn while away from home - aren't the ones they should learn (or so I have observed).
Just my 2c - the age for alcohol consent should be lowered to 18 imo - maybe even 17 in states with 3.2 beers still. I think it would lead to LESS alcohol problems if it were.
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