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'EVERYONE SHOULD BE SCARED' : Q: Are you personally afraid of violence on you campus? : Q: What worries you the most? : Q: What should be done about the problem?

September 26, 1993|Interviews for "Everyone Should Be Scared" were conducted by the following Times Staff Writers: Michael Arkush, Susan Diamond, Lynell George, Connie Koenenn, Irene Lacher, Gary Libman, Michael Quintanilla, Roy Rivenburg, Gaile Robinson, Lynn Smith, Jeannine Stein, Rose-Marie Turk and Nancy Wride

During the 1991-92 school year in the Los Angeles Unified School District, 383 students, including kids in elementary, junior high and high schools, were assaulted with a deadly weapon, according to district records. School officials confiscated 405 guns, 527 knives and 458 other weapons, including brass knuckles, screwdrivers and chains, in random searches or after fights and assaults were reported. Since January, three high school students have been shot--two fatally--on L.A. Unified campuses.

Three on-campus shootings in Los Angeles in the past year--two of them fatal--have caused Southern California high school students to worry about their personal safety as never before.

View staff writers visited two dozen campuses one day last week to ask students three questions about today's blackboard jungle. Their responses begin on E2

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"I think everyone should be scared . . . Personally, I don't think there is any solution to the violence until guns and stuff are taken away."

--Lorena Barbar, 16, junior, Los Angeles High School

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"If you are worried about being shot, you can't learn."

--Ricardo Martinez, 17, senior, Alemany High School, Mission Hills

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"Everywhere you go, no matter where you are, you have violence. When you speak about violence at Jefferson, it's minor . . . it's not guns and all that stuff. You have a bad seed wherever you go. We can't say we're perfect; we don't act as animals here, we act as civilized people. We tend to cope with each other and compromise to get through the four years we're here. Everything is the way it's supposed to be. You have good times and bad times. It's like life. . . . Everybody has labeled students: 'They're out of control' and 'We need more police.' And what you really need to do is talk to students and get to know them, begin to know how they think and learn (about) each other instead of judging them by the way they dress, how baggy the pants are, if the hat is turned one way. You don't judge by color, you judge by personality."

--Marcus Jackson, 17, senior, Jefferson High School, Los Angeles

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"You can take as many police officers as you want. It won't control the violence. The cure starts at home. If parents are tired of it, they need to put an end to it. Parents aren't teaching kids what they need to be taught."

--D.C. Stell, 16, senior, Alemany High School, Mission Hills

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"This is my school. I know who to avoid. I've seen .357s and .22s in the parking lot. I've heard guys say, 'Hey, check out my 9-mm.' They can afford nice guns at this school."

--Rick DeGeorge, 17, junior, Hart High School, Newhall

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"On this campus I do feel a little ignorant about the violence . . . There's a lot of denial . . . and ignorance of the problem. I do think there should be more of an awareness and talk about it . . . We have Tip Line--if you see a weapon on anybody at the school you can call this number and you remain anonymous--but I don't think that's enough."

--Regina Chow, 16, senior, Eagle Rock High School

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"I feel pretty safe when I come to school. It's never on my mind that someone will pull a gun on me. But my neighborhood is real rowdy. We stay inside. We always worry about whether my (younger) brother or sister is outside playing. There are drive-bys about three times a week. My brother, who's 5, has seen them in the street with guns in their hand after a drive-by. It's so ugly."

--Veronica Cantero, 17, senior, Garfield High School, East Los Angeles

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"I'm not really afraid of violence on campus. It's there, but I'm not watching my back or anything. There are little petty fights.

"I've seen gang violence in the streets, but not in school. I think they make it seem like there are fights every day and there aren't. It's a pretty calm school."

--Patricia Vargas, 17, senior, Garfield High School, East Los Angeles

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"The method of checking students is not foolproof. If you look like you are (the type who would be) carrying a gun and the detector beeps, they'll tell you to raise your shirt (so they can check.) If you don't look like the type, they'll say it must be your belt buckle. Once I brought an ear-piercing gun to school in my pocket for a friend. They took every eighth person out of our class for a random check. They put the detector over my pocket and it beeped. They said, 'Your keys?' I said, 'Yeah, my keys.' All you have to do is give a little confident smile to convince them."

--Mabel Mendez, 17, senior, Manual Arts High School, Los Angeles

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"I'm very afraid . . . For example, last week I was just standing in front of the school and these guys came up to me and they say, 'Where are you from?' They showed me a gun and I was, like, 'I'm from nowhere. I'm from no gang.' They've done that, like, five times to me. You don't know if you're gonna have a good day or a bad day or if someone might start shooting. There was a shooting here last week after school, like at 4:30, out on the street on the side of the school."

--Limwell Pentinio, 17, senior, Marshall High School, Los Angeles

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