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Opening Arguments

Bar rag

Indiana has relaxed its alcohol laws in recent years to allow kids to join Mom and Dad for dinner in certain bars at certain times under certain circumstances, and that's fine. It's not going to be the end of the world if Junior sees the folks drinking in the company of other people who also drink instead of just while they're sitting in front of the TV set. But let's not get stupid about it:

Ruth Engs, an IU professor of applied health science, said cultures that allow children to join their parents while they are consuming alcohol, such as the Italians and Germans, tend to have fewer alcohol abuse problems among their youth.

"I have been in pubs in Scotland where children are with their parents. Allowing children in pubs -- or bars -- is common in some of our states and in most European cultures," she said.

Yes, allowing kids in bars is common in some places, but that does not, contrary to the misconception nurtured by some who favor liberalizing our alcohol laws, necessarily mean there are fewer problems:

In Europe, large numbers of youth are drinking, and drinking to excess - The percentage of 15-16 year old students in most European countries who report drinking to intoxication is higher than in the U.S.4 Italy, France, and Greece are among European countries in which a smaller proportion of students report having been drunk 10 times or more during the past 12 months, compared with students in the U.S.

In Italy, France and Greece, fewer students are drunk 10 times or more a year. What a bright spot. I noticed there was nothing about the effects of child pub crawling in Scotland. Another anecdotal