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Youth Perceive Downtown, Ramsay Park as Unsafe After Dark

The data was released Thursday at Watsonville's first Youth City Council meeting.

A significant portion of high school students in Watsonville don't feel safe downtown after dark, according to a teen safety survey conducted by the new Watsonville Youth City Council.

The results of the survey were presented during the youth council's first public meeting Thursday evening.

The meeting—run entirely by high school students who have assumed the roles of mayor, city council members and city staff—explored education, economic development and public safety.

Members of Interact, a high school Rotary club, asked youth council members and others at the meeting to pledge to tutor elementary school students at least two hours in reading or math, with a goal of tallying 5,000 hours of tutoring and improve Watsonville elementary schools' scores on state tests.

The youth council discussed new businesses opportunities that could attract younger customers and also provide high school students with employment opportunities.

But the crux of the meeting was the Youth Safety Survey. A total of 723 students at Pajaro Valley, Watsonville, Ceiba, Renaissance and St. Francis high schools, as well as homeschool students, were surveyed.

Most feel safe at school, but various parts of town seemed dangerous to teens after dark, according to the data.

Youth Safety Survey Do you feel safe? Daytime Nighttime Location Safe Unsafe Safe Unsafe Target 91.5% 8.5% 60.7% 39.2% Green Valley Cinema 91.2% 8.8% 71.8% 28.3% City Plaza 69.4% 30.6% 71.7% 71.7% Second Street near
City Hall 59% 41% 27% 73% Ramsay Park 69% 31% 24% 76% Callaghan Park 77% 23% 31.5% 68.5% My Neighborhood 92% 8% 76.7% 23.2% at School 93.6% 6.3%

One-quarter of teens surveyed said they would ignore it if they heard others talking about committing a violent crime and would not report the threat to school officials or police. Also, 29 percent of youth said they weren't comfortable approaching police and 17 percent said they would not seek help from a Watsonville firefighter.

"This is staggering data and I don't see why we can't change this," said Dulce Sixtos, the mayor and a 15-year-old Ceiba student. "... Watsonville shouldn't look like this."

However, the results of one question came out more positive than youth council members expected: 24 percent of those surveyed said they'd been approached to join a gang. That was lower than they had anticipated.

"We were actually really surprised by that," said Juanita Alvarez, District 1 council member and a Ceiba student.

Lowell Hurst, a Watsonville city councilman, praised the students' work.

“You know the problems and issues better than many adults,” he said. "... I hope you’ll dig deep and continue those efforts.”

The yotuh council was organized by Watsonville Mayor Eduardo Montesino. He said during the meeting that he "could not be happier" to see the group gathered.

"This is my dream come true," Montesino said.

Oscer Rios III November 19, 2012 at 11:31 PM
@watz - you live in a rich white mans dream world. The real world is brown.
Watzon McWats November 19, 2012 at 11:44 PM
I do live in a dream world, yes! The Monterey Bay is paradise if you ask me. I wouldn't call it a white mans world though, The hills and beaches don't discriminate. And while I'm able to pay the bills, I'm certainly not rich (unless you mean rich with life, in which case yes!). Most of my favorite activities don't cost a dime. :-) The only recreation that I really pay for is eating out and renting movies. We don't even have cable TV. I live a pretty simple but highly fulfilling life.
Voice of Walker Street November 20, 2012 at 12:50 AM
@watson - you are just a over privileged white boy who can not understand the suffering of the masses. You thinks that very thing ok while the people in the streets are bleeding from the wounds of social injustice brought on them by people like like you. You are so raciest that you will never understands why.
Sergio November 20, 2012 at 03:52 AM
@OscEr Rios III - you're killing me. Keep it coming. You ever consider doing stand up comedy?
Watzon McWats November 20, 2012 at 03:59 AM
@Voice of Walker Street, I'm self made. I started out my adult life by getting kicked out of the house, so I'm not sure what you mean by over privileged. I don't believe I've ever said anything racist on here, but if I have, feel free to point it out and I'll most definitely apologize. Watsonville definitely has it's issues, but hey, it's still a great place to live if you ask me. :-)

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