"This city is growing very fast!" says Jennifer
Molina, a freshman at Watsonville High -- and she's
right! The trend is clear, California's population of
teen groups from 10 to 17 years of age are expected to
reach 4.7 million across the state by 2005.That's
three times the national population growth rate.
Census reports on, Hispanic youth reveal that cities
up and down California are showing dramatic population
increases. We are becoming the new majority and that
means we have a lot of power.
We all feel the growth and development happening in
our cities. According to the Register Pajaronian, the
state is only equipped to provide 10 percent of
today's youth with government- run-after-school
programs leaving the other 90 percent exposed to
The risks are very real; California has seen some of
the highest instances of child poverty and
incarcerated teens. Due to the high cost of living
many teens are being forced to stay alone, leading to
the dangers of unsupervised activities. Other
consequences may be the use of drugs and alcohol or
unwanted pregnancies, which are once again at an all
time high in Watsonville. In 2002, there were 242
babies born to teens residing in 95076---65 percent of
those births were to teens in the Santa Cruz County.
That's not all; Hispanic youth are not being
adequately prepared by public schools to face the
working world. More than 65 percent of bay area
Hispanic teens are performing well below grade level.
One in every three Hispanic students will drop out and
fewer than 10 percent will receive a college degree.
These numbers are telling us something-we are
California's future, but are we prepared to meet the
educational demands of the high tech world? It's time
to think about how we should be ready for the world.
It's time for us to do something for ourselves. If we
don't take action, who will? We need a new school in
Watsonville. The overcrowded campus deprives us of a
proper education, and we shouldn't have to put up with
We should get involved and take action around our
schools and communities. We should join organizations
who are trying to help. We should find ways to talk
about the issues that affect our lives. Those of us
who can should vote to ensure that our voices are
being heard or volunteer to work on a political
We can all do something to help our families and
ourselves. Let's start by going to school and going to
college. We don't have to work minimum wage jobs,
knowing we could have done better if we had received
the right education.
The thing left for us to do is to keep moving forward.
We shouldn't focus on the past because it's
irreversible. Instead letís learn from it and not make
the same mistakes twice. Let's prove these stereotypes
of unsuccessful Hispanic youth... wrong!
There is no quick fix solution to the problems of our
teenage population, we can only prepare ourselves
individually for what we can do or change for the
better. Since we are the incoming adults, let's start
acting like it. What we do really counts, and united
we will succeed!