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Inner-City Youth

December 22, 1996

* I wish to disagree with Philip Rebentisch's letter (Dec. 17), in which he said all people have freedom to choose their role in society. People do but children do not. If a child is raised in an environment where life is cheap, drugs are a way of life and the only people who have money are criminals, he does not have the option of being a good citizen because it was never offered to him.

Some black men who were raised in the hellholes that form parts of our cities rise out and make good lives but others are not that strong. They join gangs because their fathers are gang members, their brothers are gang members, their friends are gang members and if they live long enough, their sons become gang members. A vicious cycle is formed and perpetuated.

The rest of society must work to break this cycle, give the choice back to the young blacks and return hope of a better life. If blacks and other minorities are exposed to the promise of a better, safer life, some will take it and some won't but at least we gave them the chance.

DANIEL MATONAK

Canoga Park

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