According to the Lompoc Record, six teens from Maple High School in Vandenberg Village were being evaluated “for potentially being under the influence of a controlled substance, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office.”

On the same day, three teens in the Santa Maria Valley reportedly under the influence, stole a car and ran into several vehicles before being caught. The driver was 13 years old.

My first reaction was that parental responsibility or the absence of it might be the culprit. Then, where did they get the intoxicants? Where were school officials? But after talking it over with someone I respect I formed a different opinion.

All we need to do is look around at the examples of acceptable behavior demonstrated hourly in detail for our kids’ consumption, then consider the unsupervised time that’s available to our kids because both parents must work long hours to support their families and it becomes clearer.

Most young parents trying to raise kids work eight to 12 hours a day, five and six days a week. Some work two jobs, and when they get home all they want to do is collapse. Some would argue they aren’t able to raise a family with that type of work routine, but nature is what it is, so kids are part of the plan.

From an early age children are exposed to many poor examples of behavior. For example, when I was young all the movie stars smoked cartons of cigarettes and cigars and consumed vast quantities of alcohol as the plot thickened in the movie. Subsequently, when we grew older we thought this behavior wasn’t harmful. We were wrong.

Today kids are deluged with bad behavioral examples — reality TV shows that glorify outrageous scenarios of booze, drugs and promiscuous behavior, afternoon shows in which people yell and scream at each other to make their point. And there is the internet.

There are no boundaries on these presentations to show our youth what is acceptable behavior in family and public settings. Anything goes on these shows and the more outrageous the situation, the more popular the show is.

There are two high schools in the Lompoc Valley. One was thought to be better than the other, however, I have been reminded that “there are better-quality drugs” at what was once thought to be the better school. Why? The income level in the area served by this school is higher, therefore the kids have more money to spend.

Even when I was a kid booze was available if you tried to find it. It’s the same today.

Local schools all have resource officers assigned from local police agencies to provide education and guidance where needed. But, with so many kids, neither they nor the teaching staff can keep track of every kid in the school. The best they can do is provide the information and hope it sinks in.

So, whose fault is it?

Considering all these factors and many more I have concluded this may be a societal issue and that the entire societal village is responsible for the situation we find ourselves in. It will literally take a village to return some level of acceptable behavior in our community.

In the end, we are all at fault for these transgressions, and the sooner we accept responsibility, the sooner we can turn the corner and fix the problem.

Turn off the TV, block internet access for pre-teens and talk to your kids.

Ron Fink is a local activist and can be reached at: