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Good news, bad news, we print it

As I mentioned in a previous column, our Valley Sun intern, Leticia Cheng, set up a display of her work when the La Cañada High School Institutes for the 21st Century held its showcase on a Thursday afternoon late last month. I couldn’t have been more proud as this high school junior welcomed visitors to her display and told them about her internship experience. She was poised as she easily engaged in conversations with people of all ages, answering their questions and offering them copies of the paper and our goofy little souvenir Valley Sun antenna balls to take with them. I thought to myself that Leticia’s parents must be pleased with their responsible daughter, who is so very ready to take on the world.

One cheerful woman who stopped by Leticia’s display kindly told us she looks forward to reading this paper each week because of its focus on local news and events instead of the dispiriting world news. I’ve heard the same from my across-the-street neighbor and best friend, Tody Rhine. And I agree that it’s somewhat of a relief not to be bombarded by the bad news relentlessly. At the same time, I have to say I believe it’s every newspaper’s responsibility to serve up the bad news with the good.

Since we concentrate on this bedroom community, La Cañada Flintridge, where there’s little crime and a clean city hall, there’s not a lot of brutal news to report. No heinous assaults on prisoners in the local jail and no beheadings, thank God.


Instead, our bad news tends to be those brought to us via natural disasters - the windstorms, El Niño rains, earthquakes and wildfires. But there is definitely more: the quiet undercurrent of substance abuse among our teens.

Why so quiet? Because, frankly, we have not had much access to information about local drug arrests. When we do get the goods, we print ‘em. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on one’s view, when a juvenile is involved, we don’t print their names. (You don’t know how much I wish we could name the offenders AND their parents. I don’t know that it would do much good in the scheme of things, but I’d like other families to know the activities of the kids their kids are hanging out with.)

Where’s this all leading? I want to reiterate my previous stance that yes, we all acknowledge there is illegal drug and alcohol use among a fair percentage of local our teens, and no, we are not burying our heads in the sand while praising the schools. I applaud the efforts of the LCHS administrators who are taking a hard line against substance abuse and I was thrilled when I read in this paper that a parent whose teen was caught smoking marijuana on campus stood firmly behind the school’s decision to suspend the youngster. Adults like these clearly have the students’ best interests at heart. It just kills me that so many parents prefer the easier kids-will-be-kids-so-look-the-other-way approach to child-rearing and leave the dirty work up to the educators.

Thank you to all the great parents out there who, like Leticia’s, teach their children personal responsibility and accountability. It’s not an easy task, but it can be done. And I’d much rather provide an account about a teen who has been a fabulous asset to the community than tell about a sad youngster involved in a substance abuse arrest. But if the latter happens and a police report is made, my promise to you is that it’s going to be in this paper for everyone to read.