All over San Bernardino, Ca., youths roam the streets, reports the Riverside Press-Enterprise. Some are looking for fun, some for trouble. Many are just trying to get home safely in one of America’s most violent cities, where the murder rate has been as high as five times the national average. Seven children have been shot dead this year. Six were attacked after 6 p.m., when few programs are available to keep young people occupied. The violence has prompted San Bernardino to open schools for afternoon and evening recreation this summer and extend the hours at community centers and public pools.
Gang officers who cruise the 60-square mile city say that, night after night, they see kids wandering around, adults nowhere in sight. “It’s got to start with the parents,” said gang Officer Jason King. “It’s too often they don’t know where their kids are or what they are doing.” A third of San Bernardino’s children live below the poverty line. Many live with a single parent, and often that parent must work nights. City resources for youth recreation have steadily decreased over the past 20 years. Many kids are “taught to give up,” said Alex Avila, cultural director for the Central City Lutheran Mission. “You are taught that it’s probably more likely for you to go to jail than it is for you to go to college.”