, Gloucester, MA

April 24, 2013

Editorial: Parents and state's social host law

Gloucester Daily Times

---- — Prom and graduation season is drawing near, and with it, the most volatile temptations for teen drinking.

That means that some teens will soon be pressing their parents to be able to host a party or two, as well. And it’s more important than ever for parents of teenagers to be very much aware of Massachusetts’ social host law, which can hold parents liable if students who drink with their tacit approval in their home get into a car crash or otherwise run amok after leaving the party.

To that end, the Healthy Gloucester Collaborative, Gloucester Police Department, the city’s Licensing Board, and the Gloucester Council on Aging will be hosting a special presentation on the social host law Thursday from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Rose Baker Senior Center. And if you’re a parent whose teenager might be thinking about hosting a party — and there’s a chance that party will involve alcohol — you should make every possible effort to be there.

The forum, open to residents of Cape Ann’s towns, as well as Gloucester, will be led by Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett and Boston-based attorney Richard P. Campbell, both recognized experts on the state’s social host liability law since it took effect in 2000.

Look, everyone wants their kids to be safe, and, yes, many parents may assume their kids will be drinking before they graduate high school. In that vein, some may also feel better if, as the posters for Thursday’s event suggest, “the party’s at (their) house,” and they can perhaps take all of the kids’ keys and control the environment.

The reality is they can’t. And if they do, they put their teens, other parents’ kids and themselves at risk in terms of safety, and at significant liability risk, as well.

Thursday’s night’s forum should give parents real answers and real solutions for dealing with any and all of these issues. Let’s hope it gets the turnout that the DA and the forum organizers deserve.