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Her Story / Qiana


There's something about school in South-Central L.A. that makes Qiana, 16, want to ditch it. So she just never goes to school. And, yes, sometimes, she gets caught. The last time, she was sent to Camp Scott for chronic truancy; the judge told her that if she cut school again when she got out, he'd send her right back to camp. For three days, she was absent with no excuse. So here she is. Back at Camp Scott.

Beyond truancy, Qiana had other problems. Once she stole $600 worth of clothes from Mervyn's. She got caught then too. She discusses what's behind her troubles:

I don't know why I took all that stuff. Just something to do, I guess.

I've got a big brother, a little sister. Of course I've got a dad, but I don't know where he's at. He left four years ago.

What made me get into trouble? I guess the environment I was raised in. I guess I was kind of weak-minded too. On the outside, I wasn't in a gang, but I was getting to the point where I didn't care about anything--I mean, forget everybody, even my own family. My mom, she says maybe she had to let me fall so maybe I could get myself up again. I don't know. I didn't talk to nobody, and I didn't have nobody to talk to.

Since I been here four people I know died. Two boys, two girls. One girl, she got shot in the head. The other was killed in a car. One of the guys, he got shot a lot. A lot, I don't know how many times.

Since I been here, my little sister, she tells everybody I'm in an all-girls' school. My sister, when I get home, I'm going to tell her. I'm going to tell her what happens when you mess up.

Me? First I want to finish high school. Then I want to open my own day-care center. I want to help kids when they're young. After that it's too late.

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