The Biggest Issues Affecting LB Youth, According to Youth

Apr. 9, 2013 / By

As the People’s State of the City gears up this upcoming Thursday, VoiceWaves asked some of its youth what they thought were some of the biggest issues facing Long Beach youth right now.

While some cited peer pressure and acceptance as main problems, most felt that access to a quality education was the biggest issue for young people.

Check out their detailed answers below.

Suzan Al-Shammari, 16: Acceptance

Our schools would be different if every person was involved with activities that they like. If students took a chance to accept others, hallways will not be filled with students sitting alone. Our city would be different if everyone took a chance to talk to someone they don’t know, without reading too much into who they are, what they like, and what kind of people they hangout with. And just simply talk to them, focusing on what’s good in them and simply accept them.


Nayobi Maldonando-Ochoa, 19: Access to Education

A common yet not usually discussed issue facing Long Beach youth today is lack of academic resources. Too often are high school students left with little to resources about higher education. The poorer areas of Long Beach are typically less likely to have tools such as a computer or a career center to help them achieve their dreams of obtaining a college education.

Students left without the opportunity of discovering their full potential are unaware of the many paths that lie before them and are less likely to attend college. Along with socioeconomic status, there are many other things that connect to this but poverty seems to be the most blatant aspect of this lack of educational resources.


Kennedy Lewis, 16: Peer Pressure

Today’s youth face many challenges. One of the biggest hardships they have to overcome is peer pressure. Negative peer pressure affects self-esteem, leaving many youth feeling vulnerable and helpless. Youth can avoid this situation by surrounding themselves with positive influences.

Many youth often feel the need to give in to peer pressure because they are confused and or want to feel accepted. This leads to many problems because they learn to become followers instead of leaders. Their self-image is also affected because they constantly feel the need to imitate their peers and become what others want them to be.


Deonna Anderson, 22: Education

Long Beach Unified School District was recognized as one of the highest-performing school systems in the world. Still, youth are faced with educational institutions that do not have all the resources that they need to meet their full potential.

The resources in Long Beach high schools do not allow for enough program offerings geared toward building leaders who are supported and prepared for their future. In turn, youth seek out other sources for community, including gangs and violence. Youth tend to get in less trouble when they are engaged in school and have options for extracurricular activities in addition to their classes. The Long Beach School district is expected to receive $800 to $1,000 more per student in the next two years. The extra funding could be very beneficial for the city’s students.


Benjamin Lomeli, 17: Budget Cuts to Education

Long Beach is known as one of the most diverse cities in the nation. With its abundance of people, it would be expected that the youth prosper in most areas, especially education. However, that is not the case. With the recent California budget cuts, schools have lost billions of dollars in funds towards education; which have led to drastic cuts on school days, art programs, school supplies, and have even affected class room size. This hindrance towards the education system in Long Beach has steered the youth of Long Beach into a new direction, away from education. This new direction has developed into an issue that is serious and needs the attention of the many people here in Long Beach.

With a focus on a better education system for the youth, it would be more likely that the youth be more politically involved; thus voting and changing policies in Long Beach that will benefit all. Also, graduation rates would increase and college enrollment will increase too. Therefore, I believe the lack of education is affecting the youth of Long Beach and with enough attention change is possible and the future is looking brighter.


Andre Lopez, 17: College Tuition Costs

There appears to be no hesitation among the youth of Long Beach when asked if they would like to attend a college or university once they graduate from high school. When asked how many wished to continue to study after high school a group of my friends answered mostly yes. The ones who said they didn’t were because they were planning to enlist in the military.

There is, however, an obstacle that many are aware of and that is the rising costs of college tuition. While financial aid resources are available for students, for example the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and various scholarships, students are concerned with how much debt they’ll be left with after they complete their studies. It is important that high school graduates attend college and attention must be brought to the issue of the rising cost of college tuition. There doesn’t seem to be a lack of motivation, which is great, but that doesn’t pay college tuition.


Summer Nikole Culbreth, 17: Cyberbullying & Internet Addiction

As of today, I think the biggest problem facing youth is social networking addiction. The average teen has either a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or even all three. Having a social network isn’t necessarily a problem, it’s how we use it and how much we use it that determines whether or not it becomes an issue.
Sometimes social networking is used as a way to cyberbully. When social networks are used in that way, they become dangerous. Many fights end up on Facebook and screenshots are uploaded to twitter the instant an issue breaks out. Social networking can often be described as a way to get situations to go viral in a short amount of time. Being bullied at school is easily avoidable in the sense that you can go home or transfer schools, but once it ends up on the internet, a problem seems almost unavoidable.
Rachel Perry, 18: Academic Empowerment
As I work as a tutor after school in the library three days a week, I see students struggling with basic arithmetic and fractions. I sometimes wonder how they have gotten to high school without these basic skills. Some try very hard, improve on their skills, and earn passing grades (even good grades) in their math classes. Others don’t seem to recognize their struggles and don’t apply themselves, not reaching their full potential. The heart of this struggle, I think, is a lack of motivation stemming from an early age.
With more encouraging teachers, support from parents, a larger variety of options presented, and discussion of different life paths, students in Long Beach can be more successful and overcome the challenges life presents them

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VoiceWaves is a Long Beach youth-led journalism and media-training project. The youth, ages 16-24, are learning to report, write, and create digital journalism content. Their reports will raise awareness of community health issues and activate change.