I was watching an episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (don’t ask me why) and it was discussing the drinking age. Of course, the way they handled the subject ended badly for everyone, but they made a point that we seem to have forgotten: If teens learn to drink in a safe and responsible environment, they will carry those habits with them the rest of their lives. If they learn to drink 40’s in the middle of nowhere and drive home drunk to make curfew, THOSE are the habits they will carry with them for the rest of their lives. The only reason OUR drinking age is so high is that our government doesn’t believe that parents can turn their kids into responsible adults. Instead, they feel the need to regulate anything that might hurt us, thereby taking the decision-making out of our hands.
I think it’s a better idea to talk to kids about alcohol and teach them to use it responsibly at or before (with direct parental supervision) the age of 16. The countries where the legal drinking age is 16 or lower have very few problems with alcohol. People are taught not to drink and drive (which works better when there is a good and SAFE public transportation system), not to over-indulge (for reference, visit your nearest college), and what their limits are (which isn’t happening here, as evidenced by AA and the 12 Steps) in a safe environment surrounded by people who care about them.