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California

Deaths near schools, and the students left behind

Even as crime has dropped in L.A. over the last two decades, there are thousands of children who grow up with a constant drumbeat of death while navigating safe paths to schools in neighborhoods where someone has been killed nearby.

The impact of close-up violence can be devastating and costly for students, schools and communities: Some students suffer PTSD-like symptoms. Schools have begun incorporating the inevitability of trauma into their design, with curriculum addressing stress reduction and settling differences without resorting to violence. Mental health workers are now a staple at many campuses. Teachers and staff are often on the front lines of identifying the warning signs of emotionally needy students.

The Times analyzed homicide data for the last five years to find the public high schools in L.A. County that are surrounded by the highest number of homicides. Then we spent time at home, at school, and in the spaces between, with teenagers and families who have lost friends and relatives and with the educators and others working to provide a safe environment for kids to learn and thrive.

Reach Sonali Kohli at Sonali.Kohli@latimes.com or on Twitter @Sonali_Kohli.

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