A recent report presented to Atty. Gen. Janet Reno shows that nearly half of all violent juvenile crime takes place after school between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Nearly two-thirds of juvenile crime takes place between 2 p.m. and 11 p.m.
The report by Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, a national crime prevention organization of police, prosecutors and crime survivors, supports keeping children occupied from the time they leave the classroom until their parents return home from work.
Students and a juvenile crime expert talked with DEBORAH BELGUM about how busy hands keep young people away from the dangers of the street.
13, eighth grade, Will Rogers Middle School, Long Beach
When school is over at 3:30 p.m., I take the bus home. I live about two or three miles from school. My mother makes me walk home from the bus stop with my cousin. He is also in eighth grade.
I get home and watch TV, eat and play. After that, I do my homework. My mother doesn’t work.
I guess you can get into trouble by being a follower and by doing what other people want you to do. We once had Asian gang members who lived across the street from us. There were too many shootings so the manager kicked them out. I knew the sister of one of the gang members, but my mom wouldn’t let me hang out with her.
13, eighth grade, Lennox Middle School
When school is out, I go talk to my last year’s math teacher. I just like her. Last year I had problems with math. So she said, if I ever have problems to come to her for help. I spend about 20 minutes with her. She gives me a little math quiz to see how I am doing.
Then sometimes I go to the Boys’ and Girls’ Club on campus to talk to my friends and play games. From 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. we have to do homework. If you don’t do your homework, you can’t do the sports.
From 5 p.m. to 6 p.m, we play basketball. Then I walk home by myself. I live five blocks away. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I have soccer practice from 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
I don’t call my mother at work before I leave. She knows where I am. She trusts me.
Trouble looks for me. I don’t like to fight, but people sometimes try to fight just because they don’t like the way you walk. Or they say things like, “Why do you think you’re better than me?” I just ignore them.
13, seventh grade, Lennox Middle School
I get out of school at 2:46 p.m., but I stay there until 7 p.m. I have flag football practice from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day, and then I check in with the cheerleading coach. She is like a friend, a second mom, someone you can go to with your problems. As the captain of the cheerleading team, I have to get everyone together to practice.
I call my mom, who works, in the morning and in the afternoon to let her know what I am doing. When I leave school, I call her to tell her I am leaving. It takes me 10 to 15 minutes to walk home. When I get home, I call my mother again at work to tell her I got home.
If you want trouble, it is very easy to find after school. It is in the streets and around you. Like if you come to school and you’ve had a bad day, and then some boy or girl comes around to mad-dog you (stare at you menacingly). You wouldn’t tolerate it and would get into trouble.