Letters to the editor (November – December 2001)
Readers’s letters about stories in the September – October 2001 issue of L.A. Youth.
Teen crime has dropped
In the September-October issue, Los Angeles Police Chief Bernard Parks stated that "in the ’60s … rarely did we ever see violent crime," compared to "significant youth violence … particularly murders" today. Chief Parks should check police records. The first consistent county crime reports in the late 1960s showed an average of 110 L.A. youth arrested for murder every year; in the most recent years (1998-2000), the annual average for youth murder arrests was 102; and in the year 2000, just 76, the lowest number in more than three decades. L.A.’s teenage murder decline is even more significant, given that L.A. County has 100,000 more youths aged 10-17 today than it did back then.
Further, the violent crime arrest rate among LA youth last year (425 per 100,000 youths) is slightly LOWER than it was back in 1968 (430).
Chief Parks’ claim that "juvenile delinquency" in the 1960s consisted of "truancy" also is incredible. In the 1960s, law enforcement records show an average of 22,000 L.A. youths were arrested for felonies every year, compared to just 16,000 in 2000. By almost every measure, then, L.A. youth of all races today are less violent, less criminal, and less murderous than L.A. youths were 30-35 years ago. Chief Parks’ effort to paint youths today as uniquely dangerous is another reason why nothing that public officials, the news media, and interest groups say about young people can be relied upon to be fair—or even minimally truthful.
—Mike Males, author, email@example.com
Editor’s note: L.A. Youth hopes to explore these questions further in a future issue.
A lesson in compassion
I felt really sad reading this article, because although Crystal, who was teased for having Down’s Syndrome, passed away, there are many more people being teased because of their disabilities. I feel sorry for those who are too immature to understand how it feels to be made fun of. Unfortunately, that’s life and all we can do is accept and move on.
—Anna Bakchachyan, 18, Hollywood HS
If you’re a person who teases or picks on people, I just want to let you know that you’re doing a lot of damage to that person, because you’re hurting them not only on the outside, but on the inside, too. I was one of those friends before, but now I know better to stand up to them and not take their teasing. Once you stand up and raise your voice, no one will stand in your way.
—Lily Diep, San Gabriel HS
Overcoming a disability
I just read through the article about Jane Shevtsov, a disabled youth in a wheelchair. I think that what people did to her is unbelievable. My heart sank. Discrimination against handicapped people, or anyone, should not be tolerated. Jane’s hard work and persistence has gotten her so much. Although I have never met her, I’m very proud of her.
—Tina Blacketer, North HS (Torrance)
I just want to say that Jane is a very courageous person and I commend her for that.
I know how hard it is to be confined to a wheelchair. My grandpa was in one his whole life. I think it’s great that you have completed high school and are looking forward to your future in biology. Your story is one of perseverance that I think we can all learn from.
—Chelsea Moore, North HS
I enjoyed the book reviews in L.A. Youth. I can never decide what book to check out next. Reading reviews from other people is a great way to choose a book. I’ve written reviews for the school paper at Hollywood High School and your writer is a good one.
—Daisy Alexandra Sylbert, 17, Hollywood HS Magnet
My battle with depression
I related best with the article "My battle with depression," because for most of my life I have battled with depression. I have learned the hard way to turn to other people for help. Please, if you or anyone you know is feeling depressed, get help and don’t feel ashamed. Depression is not your fault. It’s a chemical imbalance and there is medication to help.
—Jeannette Davino, 17, Hollywood HS Magnet
The story on "My battle with depression" was a story I really enjoyed reading. I can relate to how she feels. I also thought I was the only one who felt so depressed all the time. I also try to do things to keep me active, so I won’t get depressed. I’m so glad you guys printed this story. Now I know I’m not alone.
—Jenny (asked not to print her last name), San Gabriel HS
Museums and old people do NOT suck
I was very saddened to read Howard Hwang’s article about museums. His article reflected two unfortunate realities of today’s world. First the current lack of funding for arts education has resulted in some students having little or no appreciation for art. They haven’t been taught about how to look at art or how to see the beauty in lines, shapes, forms, and texture. Mr. Hwang clearly expects great works of art to literally move, not move him. He acts as though the great museums owe him something.
How dare the Los Angeles County Museum of Art not have a robot-like figure of Rembrandt standing next to his paintings explaining their meaning? This is what intellect is about. It is for the viewer to use his or her intellect to decide what the artist is trying to say.
But an even more unfortunate aspect of his article is his intolerance for the elderly. He truly reflects a youth culture willing to toss aside anyone older than Britney Spears. As I read the article I couldn’t help wondering if L.A. Youth would have printed it if the words Hispanic, African-American or Asian had replaced the words old people. Intolerance against any group is unacceptable.
My wish for Mr. Hwang is that he is lucky enough to meet someone who will take him to a museum. Maybe this person can teach him the joys of seeing a Picasso or Van Gogh and being excited by the artist’s way of capturing color or conveying an idea. Perhaps the person to do this may even be an "old person."
—M. Elinson, Social Studies teacher, Monroe High School
The job hunt from hell
I think that Veronica’s article about finding a job is very helpful to many of the teenagers in today’s society. The things teenagers face when they go off into the workforce is both exciting and scary. The suggestions that she had made are very helpful because often teenagers do not realize that a job is right under their noses, but they don’t know it yet. Personally, I wish I had known about her experience before school started again because maybe I would have gotten a job that I would enjoy doing.
—Jessica Tam, San Gabriel HS
I truly appreciate your article called "The job hunt from hell." Thank you, Veronica, that article was the most helpful advice I’ve heard in a long time. Your paper motivates me to write and do all I can in my community.
—Ryann Collins, 16, Jordan HS
A response to terrorism
I understand that we want to get back at the terrorists. But just because we want revenge and retaliation, we should not make millions of people in Afghanistan suffer for something they did not do. But then again, who am I to say that they did not do it?
I know that retaliation is on everyone’s mind, but there has got to be a better way then war. Right now, there seems to be no apparent solution but maybe if our congressmen and senators tried a little harder to find a way to end this conflict, we’ll see a resolve that is fair for both sides.
—Thourak Kim, 17, San Gabriel HS