Underage Drinking & the Law

What parents need to know now about the new Social Host Laws

Author Bio

HM Epstein writes about parenting and policy. For over twenty years, her articles and columns have appeared in consumer magazines, business and literary publications under the bylines H.M. Epstein and Helene Kalmanson. (Visit hmepstein.com/portfolio for sample articles and columns).

Helene first became interested in the intersection of parenting and policy when assigned a major feature for Westchester Magazine. “A Parent’s Nightmare” chronicled the arrest of a well-respected Scarsdale couple for allegedly providing minors with alcohol and the issues surrounding underage drinking and the host law. As a regional look at a growing national trend, it became part of a countywide constructive dialogue among parents, educators and the law enforcement community.

Currently, she writes for several magazines and for the website she founded in 2008. Underage Drinking and the Law (http://socialhostlaw.com), is a resource that helps thousands of caring, involved parents navigate the tricky issues of underage drinking and parental liability.

A graduate of New York University, Helene originally worked in advertising and business development with ad agencies of all sizes. Shortly after the New York Times did a feature story about her business development work, she started a consultancy to help ad agencies grow and became a frequent contributor for advertising and business publications, including penning a regular column for AdWeek and a series of columns for the industry newsletter Ad Business Report.

In the mid-1990s, she branched out and wrote about a wider variety of topics for national and local consumer magazines, ranging from an in-depth look at conversion and its impact on Judaism for Hadassah Magazine, to architecture, home design and green technology for Westchester Home & Garden, to interviews with notable personalities and articles about personal care, beauty and family life for Westchester Magazine.

Helene also speaks to community coalitions, parenting groups, high schools and any other groups interested in learning more about the strengths and weaknesses of their local underage drinking laws or concerned about how to be a good parent in a legislative landscape that penalizes them when teens disobey their rules. She is happily married, lives in the suburbs of New York City and has a son who attends Johns Hopkins University.

6 comments on “Author Bio

  1. chris
    August 15, 2012

    “…a constructive dialogue among parents, educators and the law enforcement community.”

    I guess in the current climate it’s not too surprising that the youth themsleves are not considered part of the conversation, Except, of course, as
    recipients of the “message” handed down.

    • HM Epstein
      August 15, 2012

      Chris, I agree that a dialogue must involve all sides including those most impacted by the new laws. Will legislators listen? At the very least, the so-called minors who are of voting age should get involved. What do you think?

      • chris
        August 17, 2012

        Sorry for my late reply. I recall that when the drinking age was raised in 1985, those most impacted were overwhelmingly against it, yet legislators overwhelmingly did not listen, as they do not listen on any number of issues. Don’t polls consistently show a majority of the US public would like some kind of single-payer health care system, yet there are practically no advocates for this in legislatures, mainly because there’s no money behind it. Those old enough to vote should most definitely be involved, but my years of experience on college campuses leads me to the conclusion that there isn’t much open activism in this direction. Part of this is probably due to the fact that it’s easy to get a drink and having to sneak around adds some challenge and excitement. Also, penalties are far from draconian. And there is precious little official discussion of this issue. There is, however, loads of propaganda. One school I worked at had a campaign urging students to be “Sober 24/7”, a standard most adults don’t hold themselves to.

        • HM Epstein
          August 17, 2012

          Chris, I really like this dialogue you’ve begun and I’d like to open it up to others to participate in. So, I’m opening up a new page just for discussion of this topic and inviting everyone to participate. Please comment at https://socialhostlaw.wordpress.com/for-parents/do-teens-care-about-the-drinking-age/

          By the way, you refer to “my years of experience on college campuses”. You’re not obliged to answer, but are you faculty or a student or part of the administration of a college?

  2. Suzette
    December 14, 2011

    So glad I found this site! I’m in the process of writing a piece on house party laws in San Diego, and how underage drinking has not decreased, at least not in our neighborhood.

    • H. M. Epstein
      December 14, 2011

      Hi Suzette. We’re glad you found us, too. Do you have statistics measuring the effectiveness of house party laws in San Diego? If so, send us the link and we’ll post it here.

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