First, there was this:
"Laurie Reddy, 16, a sophomore at Ingraham High School, told Nickels she worries about gangs at her school. She wanted to know how to keep kids from joining and what could be done to end the existing gangs.
The mayor told her more police officers were being added throughout the city, "and we also need more things for young people to do, more places for young people to be constructively engaged."It's one thing to say we need activities for youth* and another to address gangs. I'm not sure that more cops and more activities are necessarily what is going to solve a gang problem. A lot of that activity is based on fear and the feeling of security in a gang.
*(On the subject of activities for youth; I grew up in a little town with literally nothing to do. Ever seen Friday Night Lights? That was my town. Not to complain but Seattle has got many, many things for teens and I have to wonder what more seriously could be done. We're building skate parks, there's music (Vera Project), community center activities, school activities, library activities; I'm pretty impressed with what Seattle offers.)
Two, was this:
"Sonja Frajman, 16, a 10th-grader at Chief Sealth High School, had written her question for Nickels on a card, but she never went up to the microphone. She didn't see the point. This is her third year attending the town hall.
"They're the same answers this year as last year," she said."It's sad when kids see nothing changing. I remember a number of School Board meetings where kids came down with speeches in hand and demanded new textbooks, for example, by next school year. You have to smile at their enthusiasm but also their innocence in believing that something like this can happen that fast. But we risk losing their interest and involvement in civic activities if they see no outward change.
Three was this:
"But what Frajman wanted to know was this:
"You care about having new schools, but that really is not the main point. ... If we have a new school, how come we can't have new books and have a good education as you want us to have? In my class we don't even have enough books to go around."It's disturbing how often you hear this from students in high schools. It seems like at many high schools there are literally not enough books to go around. I do know at some schools students simply do not bring the books back but telling their parents that they can't enroll for next year might make more books show up. Nonetheless, incoming students need books. The fact that students complain must mean it really bothers them. I heard this complaint during the Denny/Sealth BEX III debate because the kids said, "Why give us some building updates when we don't even have books?"
Last was this,
"Zekiros, who came here in 2002 from Ethiopia, told about walking with three friends to a community center.
He said it was about 8:30 at night and he was bouncing a basketball on the sidewalk when a police car went by them slowly and put a spotlight on them.
"They were looking at us really deep," Zekiros said. "They would never stop somebody on the same street if it was four white people and they had a skateboard. But four black people with a basketball, they'd stop them."
Officer Adrian Diaz, of the Seattle Police Department's Demographic Community Outreach program, told the kids that in situations like that, they need to be calm and "go along with the program." He said many incidents are videotaped and that the tapes could help with a complaint made afterward.
"But if you're combating right then and there, the situation can escalate," said Diaz."
There's a lot going on there. There's the issue of minority youth getting more attention from cops (it's true). There's the issue of parents - all parents - talking to their kids about interactions with cops. I know a lot of people might think "well, my kid would never get in the kind of trouble that would involve cops". Not true. Cops stop kids for all kinds of reasons. Kids need to know what to do (and especially what not to do) if they are stopped by police officers.