i make no excuses about who i am! love me, hate me, just read me!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

16 is an age not a homocide youth violence has affected MY COMMUNITY...

I'm awake, up on a beautiful Saturday morning to the drone of fans, yes, it is already that hot. My girls and grandson sleeping in, the house is quiet. I think of how grateful I am that they are here asleep and safe in bed. I never really gave a second thought to letting them go down to the park, or go hang out with their friends or even worried about the two block walk to school for my highschooler. Now I am going to make sure their phones are paid even though I really cannot afford it and that I know what they are doing every second of the day. This little town is not so safe as I thought it was. A young man lost his life this week, a 16 year old boy killed by a 15 year old boy at 2:30 in the afternoon on a school day. I have a hard time wrapping my head around that. I like everyone else who heard about it sat and wondered if it was someone we knew, my daughter is 16 also. Was it someone she had grown up with? I know some were calling their family members to be reassured that it was not anyone they were related to. It was on Facebook by 6 pm that day, the young man's name was Jesse Espinoza. My daughter was not sure if she knew him, but it did not matter to her because the mere fact that someone her age had died because of "gang violence" was what made his death a tragedy.
I don't want to write about the details of how Jesse lost his life, I want to write about the fact that he was someones son. I pray that his family draws strength from their faith and the community. His friends and family say he was a good kid, always smiling, joking around. The people in this town care and have come together because we are tired of hearing that our young people are becoming statistics.
Statistics say 16 youths die every day to homocide. Statistics that reflect the rise of gang violence in our sleepy ag town, Madera, California. A Facebook page was set up the following day by a pair of young people who want to see change. The group is called "STOP GANG VIOLENCE", and has grown to 914 invites or added two days! Now I know some people will say, "Yeah you are living in lala land... gangs will always be around." And while that is true, people don't need to accept it or tolerate it. The simple fact is that these were young men who had their whole lives ahead of them.That is what really upsets me. Everyone involved was under 18. What are our kids thinking when they are walking the streets with guns? The media is highlighting the fact that these boys all had "gang affiliation", and also that they were in a continuation school, because they had been expelled from the district. I don't want to make that the focus here, I want to make the fact that they were kids the who maybe got into trouble, made some bad choices for whatever reason, but they were kids.
People have posted comments on Facebook that it starts in the home, and I believe that, but I also know that kids will do what they want to do. It is a different time from when I grew up in the 70's and 80's. Kids have a lot coming at them today. They want to feel important. As the mom of three daughters I have been raising pretty much alone for the last 20 years, I have had to work and take care of them. I know I can't be everpresent in their daily lives. My kids have made some decisions that have changed their lives, but I am and always have been here for them. Parents are not always the problem. Peers have a heavy influence on the choices teens make today. I have been dealing with just that with one of my children.
In 2010 the homicide rate for people aged 10-24 in Madera County was 11.39 per 100,000 residents according to this link Thousands of teens have been in and out of the Department of Juvenile Justice's CYA in the state of California, most of them for violent crimes, yet the DJJ like every other intstitution has faced severe cuts. In 1997 the DJJ had 10,000 residents compared to the 1279 residents in a 6 month period in 2010 according to this link an informative paper written about the DJJ and CYA. Teens have only gotten more violent. 20 percent of homicides are gang related in 88 large cities according to CDC, yet the average number of youths in gangs varies according to certain factors,7% to 26%, these factors which include parental monitering, coping skills, reducing delinquency, and reducing drug and alcohol use would decrease a childs chances of becoming involved in gangs. The thing that I see missing is peer pressure.....I know in the final analysis what I have taught my children is important, that it is at the crux of their moral compass, but I also know from firsthand experience that teens are heavily influenced by outside factors.
In order to make a difference our community has got to band together, be willing to work with local law enforcement agencies, communicate with our young people, open a dialogue that encourages everyone to be positively involved. If one child listens and has hope for their future then what are we waiting for? The CDC has programs to reduce youth violence to learn more about STRYVE view the video and go to the link above.

I do know that I, like Louis and Gloria Hardesty, the Facebook group founders of STOP GANG VIOLENCE!/groups/363564637012675/ want to see something positive come out of this tragedy. I hope that we can make STRYVE  a local campaign. I want to know that my kids can walk to the store or school or go hang out with their friends and that my community is watching them. It breaks my heart to even write about this, but fear is a big motivator, I don't want to be afraid for my kids and grandson anymore, I want to be hopeful.When you are sixteen you should be learning to drive a car, thinking about the trivial things like what to wear to school, texting your friends or even more important things like planning your future, what school to go to, not thinking, "Will I be a homocide statisitic?"

Monday, April 9, 2012


Apparently I may have to start adding this to my FB status, "ANY RESEMBLANCE TO ANY PERSON DEAD OR ALIVE IS PURELY COINCIDENTAL." Lately I have alienated several people with Facebook posts, just my thoughts about something that was going on in my life at the moment that they may or may not have been a part of and they either thought they knew who I was referring to or else they knew it was them. I have been told by these "friends" that I shouldn't have posted those "feelings" of mine on Facebook. The fact of the matter is that whatever I choose to post is my business and if you do not like it BLOCK ME. I have blocked people who I view as assholes, and I am sure that I am someone's asshole out in the Facebook universe. That being said, who are these "friends" of mine to tell me what I should and should not post. According to Facebook itself, " Facebook's mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected." I think the fact that some of my "friends" had made comments to support me are what have upset the subjects of my posts. Keep in mind I use no names just how I feel. So in doing this I opened up what was a personal situation to that person and shared it with the Facebook Universe and  in that persons eyes I insulted them and their family...hope they don't see this blog then! A personal motto of mine is to not say anything about anyone if I cannot say it to their face directly, one thing I will do is be direct in person. I would expect the same from someone who has something to say about me, I prefer you say it to me. With that said I will not edit or censor my feelings for the few who I may offend. Trust me you don't want me to hold it inside, I did that for a long time and ended up stabbing someone....more about that in this link  I am the type of person who tries not to hide who or what I am or the things I have been through. I think I am "real" what you see, is what you get. I don't have a Facebook page that has nothing but positive posts or religious quotes nor do I think my page is narcissistic, its just me and my life and my family and friends. The good the bad, the ugly, my feelings my thoughts, my hopes my dreams, the occasional F word, or show of support for any one of my "friends" So tell me do you edit or censor or block your Facebook, and if so whats the reason? Have you deleted people, and why? Do you check your Facebook before you say, get out of bed or before you turn in, do you have notifications sent to your phone, do you have an app for it on your  phone so you can access even at a funeral? What do you Facebook? Why do you Facebook? Is your Facebook public? So you block certain people? The following link allows you to control your settings and who views your pages and what your "friends" see, I personally don't block people from posts unless they are minors and there is something I don't want to share with them. All of my children have access to my page including my youngest who is 12 but for the sake of Facebook sign up has been 13 for the last year....I also view their pages and if they choose to block something from my view that is their choice. 
 So I have lost a "friend" or two or have strained some relationship because of my posts but were they ever really my "friend" in the true sense of the word, I mean come on, I have never been to your home and you have never been to mine, I generally "know" the people on my Facebook in some way either as my friends in real life, coworkers, family, people from church. Some of my "friends" have met through mutual friends or from my child being involved in her can label your "friends" now..which is apparently something I will do next, just so there is no confusion the next time you see something you may think is about you that you may not like on my page. Happy Facebooking!