[Ed. Note] As the local election gears up, one issue that has been hot on the candidates’ lips is public safety. At the core of public safety and violence is addressing the role of young people. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, homicide is the second leading cause of death among people aged 15 to 24. In addition, nineteen of the 32 homicides last year were gang-related. VoiceWaves asked some of our new teen reporters what they thought would help prevent youth-driven violence in Long Beach. Below are their responses.
I really believe that helping to educate our young people is what will really help make a difference in our city. One program that unites a diverse group of students from different high schools is called Building Bridges Camp. The camp explores youth perspectives and experiences with racial and ethnic identity, and develops skills such as team building, conflict resolution, effective communication, prejudice, and building self-esteem. If more schools encourage these types of programs on their campus, violence and conflict would reduce and our youth’s ethical thinking would improve. –Diontre Gobert, 18
A way to alleviate violence among a youthful crowd is to guide them with a positive outlook in life. I believe that encouraging young people and raising their morale into believing they can achieve great things in life will turn them into positive beings pursuing their dreams. I also believe that when a certain youth is associated with an organization or club that aims to make the community a safe environment, it will give them a broad understanding of how violence is not the answer to everything. –Nisa Cheng, 18
We can reach out to the students by bringing in successful and hardworking people who have been in life-threatening situations to talk about how they overcame their struggles and how it feels to be successful. By doing this, we can help students develop a better mindset to try harder rather than drop out of school, get into trouble and give up. We could also hold discussions just to talk about stress and everyday lives to keep them off the streets and in the surroundings of those who want to listen, care and can relate. –Anyssa Staine, 18
Engaging youth in school and community activities can be a way to prevent gang and drug activities. Studies have shown that high school students who participate in sports are less likely to be a part of gang activities. –Julia Kowey, 16
We must take action in order to prevent such violence from continuing and it should come from education. Education provides opportunities and options for youth struggling to find an identity for themselves. –David Estrada, 17