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After 15-year-old Charles Williams allegedly shot 15 people, killing two, at Santana High in Santee, Calif. on Monday March 5, L.A. Youth staff members offered their thoughts on why he lashed out and what can be done about it.

"Every day in high school, teens are getting teased and made fun of. In the case of Charles Williams, I believe he was going through what a lot of teens go through. The Santana High shooting seemed like the Columbine High shooting in a way. I don’t think teens have clear minds when they express anger or pain. It seems that many of the troubled teens don’t have happy lives at home. No one’s perfect, but maybe instead of trying to develop violence-free schools, we should all start with violence-free homes."
—Caroline Park, 16, South Pasadena HS

"I really do feel bad for the parents who lost their children, but I also feel bad for the alleged gunman, Charles Williams. Imagine being a popular kid in your school who everyone looked up to and treated well. Then your family moves and you enter a new school where no one is treating you well. Everyone belittles you and calls you names. THAT would drop your self-esteem. It must have been very painful.
    I’m sure you’ll say that everyone has to deal with such things, but unfortunately we don’t all have strong personalities. Some of us deal with problems by opening up to others. Some can look inside themselves and change. Others shut down. Then there are some who get so overwhelmed and act in the heat of the moment, like this kid did. Although this wasn’t a great way to deal with his problems, he decided to punish those who in a way deserved it."
—Eugenia Usmanova, 16, El Camino Real HS

"The shooter from Santana High School is the perpetrator and not the victim. He may have been picked on, but he should have found it in himself to find the correct and least violent solution. If he was a loner, then he needed to improve his social skills—not go on a killing rampage and try to make things better for him. Obviously that wouldn’t help! Everyone gets picked on!
    We need to stop playing the blame game when painful instances occur. There really is no scapegoat, unless we make one up. We can’t change a whole society, but as individuals, we can change ourselves."
—Elizabeth Del Cid, 17, North Hollywood HS

"The first step to solving the problem is admitting the problem. And understand that in high school, you will be made fun of and you will make fun of people, too. Don’t do something that you will regret later."
—Howard Hwang, 14, Marshall HS

"I think school shootings are problems bred off campus. People condemn student shooters as self-proclaimed victims. Others sympathize with the shooters’ frustrations. But instead of providing outlets for angry students, ideally society should work to stop producing angry students.
School workshops are well-intended programs, but they won’t solve problems and dysfunctional behavior created years ago."
—Krissi Dukes, 16, El Camino Real HS

"Some people deal with their problems by taking it out on others by being mean to them. Others take out their problems with more extreme measures, like shooting or stabbing them. I guess they don’t realize they aren’t the only people in the world who are being teased. If everyone who was once picked on in their lives went around killing people who teased them, the whole world would be dead.
    I guess half of the problem is that the present can be so overwhelming and the future is so far away, so they can’t look beyond right now. They feel the only way to get rid of their problems is to get rid of the person causing the problems. Maybe they don’t realize the actual cause of their actions, I don’t know.
    But when a person has their mind set on doing something, it’s very hard to stop them. No school, parent, friend or teacher can really stop them. The only way to prevent it is to rat on them if you know about it. Otherwise it’s hard to predict and even more, hard to stop, especially since so many people think ‘it could never happen at my school.’ "
—Jennifer Gottesfeld, 15, Beverly Hills HS

"Violence prevention starts at home. No family is perfect. But if parents educate their children from a very young age with love and understanding, a little bit of that education will help. If people know that they aren’t going to be good parents, then they shouldn’t have kids, or they should take parenting classes first."
—Ambar Espinoza, 18, University HS

"I believe that some people lack the means to cope with teasing and ridiculing. Some people have different personalities that don’t react calmly or rationally to being picked on. It’s a tragedy that these shootings have been occurring.
    However, the crazy methods of dealing with these problems are becoming the norm in society. Columbine, Jonesboro and other acts of high school violence are being mimicked as a way out of the turbulent lives that teens live. I don’t believe that metal detectors, school groups and other random interventions will help those few lonely individuals.
    They are so far gone that it is unlikely they will be reaching out for help. If someone is intent on shooting up a school, they will go through with it.
    The focus should be taken away from the bullies, schools, victims and even the shooters and placed back on those families that are keeping numerous guns in their homes and denying their children the coping skills necessary to survive in this world. The parents are obviously not listening."
—Matt Jones, 17, Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies

"I think schools should have more social clubs, so students could talk about their problems. Maybe if everyone were nice to each other, we wouldn’t have these kinds of shootings.
    Charles Williams needed someone to talk to about his problems. He needed a good friend. But he reached a point in his life where he was tired of being bullied, teased and bossed around. If he had good self-esteem, it wouldn’t matter what other people had to say.
    I wonder if his parents taught him about violence. If he understood the problems that violence creates, it could have influenced his decision to not shoot at school. Either way, we need more communicating out there."
—Melissa Velasquez, 17, Dorsey HS