EMPOWERING YOUTH IN SAN FRANCISCO
San Francisco is proud of our youth and more we love our youth. The reason is simple we believe that our youth are our leaders today, tomorrow, and in the future. It is time we involve our youth in day to day deliberations so that our politicians and our City Department heads are held responsible with youth input. This is done in our neighboring counties and cities.
It is a shame that even the Mayor Office has a nonchalant attitude when it comes to the youth. While Queers are given every opportunity to deliberate (which is kind of fine) the same opportunity should be given to our youth. In fact every important meeting should be brought to the attention of the Youth Commission so that some one at the Youth Commission - can follow up and bring about the required results with representation and action.
Recently Mayor Gavin Newsom initiated a novel type of Public Meeting - these Public Meetings go by the name of AmericaSpeaks. At the two meetings held so far - important issues were discussed and missing were our youth. This should never be repeated again. I hope some one like Alex Trouk will follow up and bring about some concrete protocol to allow the maximum participation by our youth.
Crime is on the increase and young people are killing one another. Recently we had 14-year-old youth shooting and killing another 14-year-old youth. In fact is has become routine to hear and find our very young people killing one another. This is happening all over the City and County of San Francisco.
Youth killing one another. Youth getting suicidal. Youth stressing out. Many youth living in fear because they bus themselves to far off unsecured schools. Youth - encountering real difficulties fall of deaf years. Any detail evaluation will find and reveal even more serious factors - which our Mayor and political leaders do not want to deal with. The School System is broke and is not working. There are unique problems that the Samoan youth face. Very unique problems that the Cambodian and Vietnamese youth face. Serious issues that the African American youth face. Quality of Life Issues that no one is paying attention to.
In short youth in general Latino and others - all face serious problems. The setting at Log Cabin and the Youth Guidance Center is one of impending danger and poor results. Youth incarcerated go in less prone to commit serious crimes and come out with skills that will put chronic criminals to shame. I sit down with some of the youth and they tell me everything.
In some areas it is not uncommon for the San Francisco Police Department to round by some youth and force them to sign documents without proper representation. The Public Defender's Office headed by Jeff Adachi knows about the cases and so do many lawyers that deal with the youth.
I have gone to Court to witness the way the judges adjudicate the cases dealing with youth. When the youth get good court representation one can hope for some remedial actions and rehabilitation. When the youth are at the mercy of the Courts without good representation - the youth are thrown to the mercy of whatever comes their way. In short they are put in harms way. This nonsense must stop now and some one must initiate the necessary means to end the misery of many innocent youth.
The facilities that incarcerate youth should outreach the counselors that deal with Cambodian, Latino, African American, Vietnamese, other minority ethnic groups at various Community Based Organizations in San Francisco - to bring about some representation in the rehabilitation process.
The case in even worse for the young girls when they are incarcerated in our system. I know what I am talking about because I have spoken to a lot of young women and girls. They are fed up with the system that wastes millions of dollars and give the troubled innocent youth - no real help what so ever. The time has come for some drastic change - they must happen as soon as possible. Some one should just take a look at our City Schools. I know they all come under the State but the youth live in San Francisco and we all have an obligation to help our youth. Our youth in City Schools are bused to areas that they really do not want to go to. Bused to schools where they have filthy toilets. Bused to school where they have poor trained teachers - and what is more not equipped with books and other essential factors - that bring about quality education and learning. No one is paying attention to Quality of Life Issues - especially concerning our youth.
I have attended the San Francisco Unified School Board Meetings. I hope some our Supervisors attend these meetings. They start at 7 p.m. and can go until the wee hours of the morning. I hear the pain of the parents. The parents are fed up - some of them have made statements that they will send their children to China and other countries to get a good education.
I talk to our youth and many of them do not like going to their schools - imagine dragging oneself every single day to go to a lousy school - far away from home - it is even worse if the youth have to deal with health and safety issues. Many of them are put in harms way - every single day.
I know and have seen what happened at Thurgood Marshall school. I remember the riot and the years it took to hear the incident and bring about some adjudication. I know what happened at Balboa when a student became suicidal and killed himself. I know of the serious fights at Lincoln - I could go on and on - but let me tell you I know what is happening. I even know about the harm done to some students at Burton.
Our Mayor Gavin Newsom, some Supervisors and especially Bevan Dufty who is like a dog that chases his tail has no concern about our youth. I know Fiona Ma has because she cares to talk to the youth. I know Tom Ammiano has some concern because he was a teacher. I know Chris Daly has because he goes out of this way to talk and understand the feelings of the youth. Mayor Gavin Newsom talks the talk but cannot walk the walk. It is wrong to permit youth to face great difficulties without giving them concrete help. It is wrong to allow them to stress out without lending a helping hand. It is wrong to look the other side when we should face reality and help our youth in every and anyway possible. This was done before but of late no one which a hoot. The problem is all the more worse - since fewer youth enroll in our City schools in San Francisco.
I hope those of you reading this article understand - I find it difficult to see so many youth killed. Some of them - I knew well and they were NOT gang members. They were good people. I find it hard to see and hear the youth facing so many difficulties - and very few City Leaders lending a helping hand. Some times all it takes is listening to the serious issues facing our youth by our leaders. They are our present leaders and we should back them up a million per cent.