Making Sure Kids Are Wise to the Pitfalls



(This is a reply to David Vanderveen’s Local Currents column on “Mutual Responsibility”)


Yes, I am the dad who called David to get the scoop on energy drinks. Who better to ask than a local dad, energy drink entrepreneur, and socially conscious all around good guy? As he stated, I was more concerned about the kids in our community and what they consume than about laying blame on the companies involved in their business.


First, I want to clarify that it was actually a friend of my child’s who had the incident that brought the risks to my attention, not my daughter as indicated in the article. But my concern is the same. When kids come over to my house, I take on the responsibility for them while they are under my roof. Fortunately, we have an open house for our kids’ friends, which also means an open dialogue with them.


I have learned many things from these young adults. Like how many of them do not feel they have the opportunity to speak freely with their parents, and sometimes even amongst their peers. Yes, it’s the challenge all of us as parents have, balancing our own lives and that of our children’s wellbeing. How many times have we approached a topic with our teens rolling their eyes at us, all knowing?


We rely on many inputs for raising our children. We have a great community of parents and school resources – both curriculum based and presentations for parents. Yet there is always the never settled question of how to truly influence our kids’ decisions when we are not with them. Decisions that will keep them from harm, help them be better people, make them all the wiser.


My wife put it this way years ago, when we were working on HIV/AIDS prevention strategies for young adults back in the 90s: “How do you impart wisdom before experience?” Great question. One of the things we found most beneficial was peer to peer education. At least, hopefully, they will listen to each other.

But it still comes down to getting them the information in the first place, in this case, about what you consume and put in your body. That even “over the counter” products such as coffee drinks, energy drinks and energy pills can put you at risk for a variety of challenges.


It also comes down to how we as parents show up to set examples, provide insight and participate in a shared and mutual responsibility in our community to make sure we are doing our best to raise our kids in the village we call home, Laguna.


As David has offered his services and staff to present information on this topic of consumption, I offer the Prevention Symbol ( as a tool to help focus on the risks and acts of prevention we all face in our world.

Prevention…how do you draw the line?


Mark Smith, Laguna Beach

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