Summit on Youth Violence

Re “Poor Turnout for Meeting to Curb Violence,” Jan. 31.

Thank you for your coverage of Peace Mission ’99, the Summit to Stop Violence, but I regret that you focused only on the low attendance.

Some of our area’s best experts on youth set forth ways to help stop the slaughter and tragic loss of young lives and to have some mercy on the kids. You could have said what really happened at the summit and reached lots of kids who read The Times with a report that at least said, “These people care.”

The true situation is far worse than any published report. The proposed juvenile justice center will be populated with kids who are 10 and 11 today. What’s wrong with this picture? The kids are on an invisible conveyor belt to crime and juvenile hall. Where is the prevention program money? There isn’t anything meaningful. The South Oxnard Challenge program is currently helping 165 families. What about the rest? Remember: Gang members and violent offenders aren’t born, they are made.

Instead of dwelling on the “poor turnout,” you could have mentioned all the speakers who gave their time because they are truly dedicated, including Ralph Meyer, whose son was murdered and who, with his wife, founded Parents of Murdered Kids Inc.; Alma Pearson, representing Assemblyman Tony Strickland; boxing champion Robert Garcia; Jeanette Frescas, editor of Teen Parent magazine; Harriet Weigel, a religious education leader; Ricardo Melendez from the South Oxnard Challenge Project; Ray Duran of the Center for Employment Training; Josie Salinas, who gave our opening prayer and just retired from 15 years with the California Youth Authority; and Jess Gutierrez, a former juvenile parole officer. Don’t you think these super-qualified people would have something to say? You missed the message, so your readers missed the message.

All of us who attended the summit were honored to be present for a stellar, profound event.