Led admirably by Principal Joanne Culverhouse, the educators at LBHS who we count on to keep students safe and help at risk young people have come up with a bold idea that can bring the light of truth into one of the darkest corners of our lives.
On May 12 the doors of the Artists’ Theatre will open up so students, parents and the community can get real about drug use disabling kids, and killing young people in Orange County by the dozens.
Some may have believed the 164% increase in drug overdose deaths among ever-younger addicts in Orange County was not a Laguna Beach problem. That fallacy was exposed when two of our own local young people were arrested for doing heroin in the girl’s bathroom at LBHS. Why should we be surprised, Americans are 6% of the world’s population and we consume 95% of opiates produced worldwide every year.
Now all of us who care about students in our public schools should save the date and come get a dose of reality from a courageous Orange County judge overwhelmed by young adult drug cases crowding his court docket, hear from survivors of teenage addiction, and see the powerful documentaries “Overtaken” and “Do No Harm” (the latter about drug pushers in the medical-industrial complex).
Other county high schools have been doing annual drug summits to meet the new drug threat, which is actually the old drug threat back with a new vengeance. We need to stand together and be there for families with children in the public schools, and support the school district as our community awakens and begins more effectively to face the new threats that we must unite to defeat.
Two years ago parents and alumni concerned about at risk students in our town sounded an alarm about the hard drug threat, noting that Sheriff Hutchens had identified illegal abuse of prescription drugs as the fastest growing threat to kids in Orange County. That is one reason why the model social host ordinance promoted by Mother’s Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is not limited to alcohol, and covers adults unlawfully supplying any controlled substance to minors. An LBPD liaison to LBHS confirmed the trends we reported.
But the hour for action is well upon us. In the last two years California has moved up and now ranks 16 among states in which fatal drug overdose has become the number one cause of accidental death. Yes, drug deaths now surpass automobile fatalities, including adult and teen DUI auto deaths.
Because adult endangerment of children with alcohol or drugs is already illegal, we urged a shift of focus from passing more redundant new laws to community education and family support on the broader range of risks that our city and county law enforcement leaders identified over two years ago. Thus, we all should commend the LBHS leadership team and the school district for this new open door initiative, bringing the public and families together to let our young men and women know they will not be abandoned to the forces of self-negation arrayed against them.
Howard Hills graduated from LBHS in 1970. He is a district representative for Rep. Dana Rohrabacher and president of Laguna Beach Republicans.