Students Find Danger Lurks To And From School

There are neighborhoods in America, where to be young is to be afraid. For many, the most dangerous part of their day is the journey to and from school. In some areas, the risks of gang fights, drive-by shootings and random violence are the price of an education. Youth Radio brings us the voices of teenagers who attend schools in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

For many young people, the most dangerous part of their day is the journey to and from school. In some areas, the risks of muggings, gang fights and random violence are part of the price of an education. Violence directed at kids is down over the past decade, according to government figures. Still, homicide is the second highest cause of death for young people.

We're about to hear from students in two parts of the country. In a minute, we'll learn about the aftermath of a killing in Chicago. Now, youth radio brings us the voices of teenagers who attend schools in the San Francisco Bay area.

Mr. MARWAN MOORE(ph): My mom tells me every morning to be aware of your surroundings. And as soon as I get home, she always asks me, is there anything happened on my way home. She's been doing that every day of my life since, like, second grade. She worries about me a lot.

FELICIA EARL(ph): You hear shootings and stuff like that. You know, it really don't even really phase me no more. It's everyday life. It happens everywhere. Every city got their own dangers, their own darkness. So you can't run from it. You know, it's everywhere.

VICTOR ZAPADA(ph): There's a lot of streets out here that are, you know, kind of dangerous. If you're stepping into an area which you're not supposed to be in, they could, like, you know, mug you, rob you, you know, beat you up, something like that, you know - assaults, basically. They get you scared not to walk by their area, you know.

SARAH HAMMOCK(ph): It sucks. Like, one guy got stabbed. A couple other of my girlfriends, they got mugged and they got beaten up pretty bad.

ZONOBIA WEST(ph): There was one boy who got shot two blocks away from school, during school.

Ms. HAMMOCK: A girl I know at school was mugged as she was walking outside. They punched her in the face and stole her backpack and, like, all her books and her cell phone. And I try not to ever leave campus or walk home or even ride my bike because I know that the same could happen to me.

MARGARET DAILY(ph): Freshman can get beat up pretty bad, and we have a lot of fights, so sometimes I kind of question whether or not I can be safe because people have been spotted with knives and stuff. And my parents were just like, you've just to stay out of that kind of stuff and you really can't try and stop it. Just call the police.

Mr. DERRICK WILLIAMS(ph): I don't fight. I don't have a beef with anybody, so I don't have a reason to be freaked out. I've got into arguments and stuff with people, but it's never escalated past, like, a verbal disagreement.

Ms. AMENIA JAMES(ph): Don't walk by yourself. Walk with somebody you know. My mom made me and my brother and sister walk together. She's like, if y'all ain't got each other, then you ain't got nobody.

MONTAGNE: Those were the voices of Marwan Moore, Felicia Earl, Victor Zapada, Sarah Hammock, Zonobia West, Margaret Daily, Derrick Williams and Amenia James. They all live in the Bay area and were recorded by Youth Radio.

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