“You are not alone” was the message sent out to community members and parents during two nights of drug awareness presentations this week.
On Monday about 100 people listened to Deputy Scott Shinagawa from the Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station and school resource officer talk about the “real” problem of drugs within the community. Pam Erdman, a marriage, child and family therapist spoke on the importance of balancing parental authority without becoming a parental warden. “Your job as a parent is to encourage good judgment,” Erdman said. She advised parents to make the most of their conversations with their children and not to be the one who does all the talking.
“You have about two to three minutes of really good attention,” she said. She encouraged an equal dialogue about school, drugs and sex with children.
On Tuesday about 85 people came to a forum on drug information sponsored by the Crescenta Valley Drug and Alcohol Prevention Council. The panel included parent Aileen Bristow, Glendale Police Officer Joe Allen, Crescenta Valley Sheriff Deputy Eric Matejka, clinical social worker Paul Royer, representative Cary Quashen from Action Family Counciling and Nancy Stone of the CV Drug and Alcohol Prevention Council. The night began with acouncil member Howard Hakes introducing Bristow.
“I am the mother of two boys. One is a sophomore at Crescenta Valley High School and the other would have been 23. His name was Christopher McCulloch and he was beaten to death along with a friend at Valley View Elementary School on July 23, 2000,” Bristow said.
She told the audience that she was certain that every parent there would willingly stand between their child and any danger they might face but, like Erdman said the night before, it is a parental balancing act.
“What child wants their parent following them around?” Bristow
asked. “So you let out a little rope and you pray and you call their cell phones every few minutes.” Matejka and Allen talked about what type of drugs are in the community and how kids are using them. Matejka is the SRO at La Cañada and said that the high school there is facing similar problems.
“It is not just one school or one community,” he said. “And it is not just at the school. It is in the community,” Allen said. He added the drug issues are community wide and that everyone has to take a stand to help combat the problem.
Many in the audience asked questions ranging from what to do if you know there are drug deals happening in one area to what the community can do to help. Those on the panel agreed the best defense is education and awareness.
“My daughter and Aileen’s son were good friends. I got involved in this council because I didn’t want the hate that killed Chris to be the final word. The final word is love and that is what our community is. Let’s work together to help our kids and our community,” Stone said. Bristow was part of a council in the past that did not have the support of the community. She said she hopes this time will be different and spoke directly to those in the audience.
“Tonight I beg you to listen and digest this information given to you by the panel. Make a stand between your child and what could hurt them,” she said. “This is a lovely valley but many people are hiding their heads in the sand or, like I was, totally naive to the ugliness of the world and just how much of that ugliness has crept into our valley.”