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A Huntington Park High School student was walking around his Watts neighborhood with a friend when they were jumped from behind. The 17-year-old and his friend were put in headlocks while they were robbed of their money. His friend passed out. Others were out on the street and saw what was going on, but nobody stopped to help.

"I couldn’t believe that nobody helped us," said Abel Patino. "I try not to let the whole thing affect me, but there are people out there who do harm. I remember those people, but try not to think that everyone will do it."

Abel’s story got the staff at L.A. Youth thinking about other students out there who face danger in their neighborhoods. Whether people are victims of crime or witnesses to it, it has a tremendous impact on them.

Quotes gathered by Associate Editor Sue Doyle

"My uncle got shot one time in the head and now we can’t go out with him. My brothers and I are sad about it. We want him to go back to the way he was."
—Adriana Macias, 18, Lincoln Heights

"You can’t go out after 7 p.m. or when the sun goes down, because there are a lot of gangs. They start shooting. I can’t even go out to parties, and I love them. But I can’t go, because you never know if you’ll be shot."
—Claudio Arriola, 18, Lincoln Heights

"I don’t like walking to the bus stop on Griffith. It’s five blocks away, but people get jacked. Now I take the bus right from school, because it’s safer."
—Jose Garcia, 17, South Central

"Last week someone was shot dead on the street in front of my house. He was shot in the neck and there was blood everywhere. Everyone started running. I try to deal with it, but I feel so unsafe in my neighborhood."
—Bernardo Ortega, 17, Los Angeles

"I’m so used to seeing violence around my house, so I don’t go out. I stay inside and play video games."
—Jennifer Sandoval, 16, Los Angeles

"It scares me to even go out at all, because I never know when something will happen."
—Jesse Sanchez, 15, Huntington Park

"When I go out, I have to look around for people who might give me trouble. You have to be careful to not even run into someone by accident, or you can get hurt."
—Martin Perez, 16, South Gate

"Sometimes in the afternoon I don’t like walking by myself, because I’m scared someone will mistake me for someone else and hurt me. It happens."
—Victor Alfaro, 15, Huntington Park

"On the corner by my house there’s a burger joint where people sell drugs and identification cards. Last year, there were two drive-bys into the parking lot. It’s bad and the thing is, I’m getting accustomed to it. When I stop and think about it, it’s like ‘Hello! This is happening where I live!’ I want to live in a safer neighborhood without violence."
—Hilda Zamora, 16, Huntington Park

"I lived near a meth lab that exploded a few years ago, so we moved to South Central to be safer. I try to ignore what’s going on in my neighborhood, but I can’t because there are gangsters and tagging. I try to live with it, but it’s scary to know that people are being killed. It’s scary to know this happens, but it shouldn’t."
—Cristina Covarrubias, South Central