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VOICES / A FORUM FOR COMMUNITY ISSUES | Youth Essay

'It's Easy to Be Crushed'

March 10, 2001|MEHAMMED MACK | Mehammed Mack, a senior at Le Lycee Francais de Los Angeles in West L.A., lives in Venice

As a 17-year-old in high school, I am aware of how hostile an environment it can be. It's like a microcosm of a political institution, only the competition and lack of morals are exagerrated. It is very easy to be stepped on; any Achille's heel will be exploited to relieve someone's anger.

In judging Charles Andrew Williams, the 15-year-old Santee high school student accused of going on a shooting rampage at his school and killing two fellow students, we must remember his age before anything else.

What defines adolescence is constant change and renewal. Therefore I believe it is unjust to try him as an adult. It is very obvious he is not completely formed; you can tell just by the chaos visible in his face.

I know from experience that my strongest convictions often change imperceptibly to their opposite. Sentencing Williams to life in prison will only exacerbate his current condition, reinforcing his hatred of society. Teenagers are not dogs who learn only from severe punishment; they have the capacity of self-judgment.

Show Williams how to recognize his errors and he will turn 180 degrees around.

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