The social attitude
in the United States
towards alcohol, especially that from many parents, is another factor which fuels binge drinking
. Supporters of the age limit seem to insist that teenage binge drinking would increase were the drinking age lowered, logically this is not the case.
Overseas, where the drinking age is virtually non-existant, alcohol is treated with a different type of respect. Teenage drinkers know how much they can handle, it is looked down upon to binge drink and people are taught to drink for the taste. Their parents know that their kids consume alcohol and recognize that they do so responsibly, encouraging behavior which is expected later on in life.
American parents, to the most part, demonize alcohol at home, making it accessible to kids only at rare occasions. The idea of having a beer or glass of wine with food never comes up, alcohol is available only as a device for getting drunk. The worst drinkers in college are those who lived with overly protective parents, and always held college as their oppertunity to party as hard as possible, not learn.
England has a good approach to drinking, namely that one can order alcohol in restaurants at any age when accompanied by a parent and alone only when 16 -- Bars and Clubs are still 18 and up. Growing up in a traditional German household, I've had a beer with dinner since I was thirteen, and still drink more or less regularly while rarely becoming intoxicated. Agreeing with smoker4, the drinking age is indeed counterproductive when teaching our youth to handle alcohol.