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Minority Report

Teen Explosion!
Author: Nadia Molina

"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 
possible dangers. 
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!