Mailbag: Social host ordinance is a tool community needs

November 14, 2012

I am a current resident of Laguna Beach and have been a pediatrician in the community for more than 50 years.

As a doctor, I have been witness to countless instances where alcohol and drugs have destroyed young lives. This is even true for "good" kids from "good" homes in our community who get access to alcohol or drugs. All it takes is access to these substances, and youth can get themselves into very bad — sometimes even deadly — situations. In my professional experience, underage alcohol use is often the tip of the iceberg that sends kids down the slippery slope of substance abuse. Seeing kids I have known since infancy struggle with addictions as teens is heartbreaking.

When parents or adults provide alcohol to teens so they can drink "safely" at home, they are giving the message that drinking is OK and that the law doesn't mean anything. Perhaps their child will have no consequences, but it's a very dangerous game to play. What does it take to help protect our kids from playing a form of Russian roulette with their lives — and potentially the lives of others? The answers are not popular or easy.


In my practice, I have decided that I must warn parents and my patients that there is danger ahead. As my patients approach puberty I have a conversation with them about substance abuse. But as a community, we need to do more.

One tool I believe our community should employ is a social host ordinance. I have seen and heard too many stories about kids who get drunk, only to learn that the alcohol was provided by adults they know.

A social host ordinance is but one tool in the fight against teen alcohol use, but it is a step in the right direction to make access to alcohol more difficult for our community's underage kids.

Dr. Al Clark

Laguna Beach


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