The city of Santa Clarita is hosting its annual award-winning Parent Symposium this month, seeking to offer moms, dads and legal guardians information about what’s going on in the community with respect to challenges facing their kids.
“What we do is we look at what’s going on in the community and what the main issues are, and try and tailor the event to whatever the most prevalent issue is,” said Carrie Lujan, communications manager for the city of Santa Clarita.
The event started back in 2012 in response to a rash of heroin overdoses that occurred. In addition to opioids, the city has also looked at vaping, and for the last two years, fentanyl has been the biggest concern.
Cynthia Muir, community services supervisor for the city of Santa Clarita, said the participants tabling at the event will include community resources such as the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station’s Juvenile Intervention Team, which fights narcotics-related crimes with a nexus to juveniles, the Department of Public Health, the Child & Family Center, A Light of Hope and local addiction-treatment centers.
This year, there’s a presentation for parents scheduled to take place at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 28 and a chance for parents to meet with local resources at 6 p.m. at the Canyon Country Community Center.
Fentanyl poisoning was connected to 31 local deaths last year, and six so far this year through May, with a number of incidents awaiting toxicology tests regarding the possible involvement of the narcotic.
Particularly alarming for parents and officials is that the fentanyl-related deaths are often referred to as poisonings, because the user often doesn’t know that’s part of what they’re purchasing and it’s consumed inadvertently, according to local drug treatment expert Cary Quashen of Action Drug Rehab. He said the drug is manufactured cheaply in China, often smuggled into the country from the south and used as a filler because it’s inexpensive, highly potent and very addictive.
It takes just a few milligrams to represent a lethal dose, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration, which recently reported that six out of 10 fentanyl-laced fake-prescription pills found by the agency contained a potentially fatal dose.
The city acknowledged the drug’s potency — it’s supposed to be 50 times stronger than morphine and 100 times stronger than heroin — during a National Fentanyl Awareness and Prevention Day last week at a City Council meeting.
“It is crucial that the community understands just how dangerous fentanyl is,” said Santa Clarita Mayor Jason Gibbs. “One small pill, even a tiny amount, is enough to claim a life. This event will inform parents and students about the risks. Being in the know could literally save your life, or that of someone you love. I encourage all residents to join us for this important event.”
The Canyon Country Community Center is located at 18410 Sierra Highway.