Youth Need to Have More Stake in Palisades

Kids were fighting at different locations in the Palisades on June 5.

BY CHAZ PLAGER

Fights in high schools aren’t uncommon by any means. They can happen for any number of reasons— love quarrels, money troubles, random aggression, and more. But they’re also not a regular occurrence.

According to a survey by the National Center for Education Statistics, only 21% of students nationwide have been involved in a physical fight with other students outside high school. Which is why it’s so strange that Palisades Charter High School has had so many fights.

Those who often check Nextdoor are aware that fights happen in the Palisades far more often than seems natural, and they often happen between Pali High students.

In one day, June 5, students were witnessed in four separate fights: one fight outside of Gelson’s, one outside Elyse Walker, another on Temescal Canyon Road and one on a public bus heading out of Pali. Whether they were Pali students is unknown, because the police were not able to disclose that information, and witnesses weren’t sure.

Not even the idea of graduating soon (June 6) could quell some students’ anger. One student was expelled right before Pali’s graduation ceremony for attacking another student.

Certain craftier students had a different idea— “revenge fights.” As soon as Pali High’s graduation wrapped up, several students boasted that since they were now free of high school, and free of the worry that they may be expelled, they would be going to settle scores with certain enemies.

These “revenge fights” were touted to take place at the park, which is where I asked around about more of the details.

“I can’t tell you why they happen, or who’s doing it,” said one Palisades Park official. “I can say, though, that there’s been a big decline in fights around here recently. Usually, we see peak fight activity around May or earlier.” If these “revenge fights” did in fact happen, it would seem they happened out of the public eye.

So, the million-dollar question: Why is it that the Palisades has seemingly such a higher rate of fights than other areas? Is it social media? Income inequality? Something in the water? While I’d like to attribute one of these things to the problem and wrap it up nicely and neatly, the real answer is honestly a lot more banal: The Palisades just ends up having a lot more kids than it’s built to handle when school is in session.

Combining Paul Revere, Pali High, Corpus Christi, and other schools, you’re looking at about 3,000 teens swarming the Village five days a week.

That amount of kids all together in a small place could be the reason that violence is so high. When all you see around you is other kids, you forget about the adults, and the consequences that they can visit upon you.

Furthermore, although teen fights are a relatively uncommon occurrence, the sheer number of teens gathered together means that statistically, there will be more fights by virtue of numbers.

Although studies have seen a rise in youth violence in California, they often fail to consider the fact that the state’s youth population has risen in tandem with those crime rates, meaning that the per capita rate is still the same. Nevertheless, if the Palisades wants to try and reduce the number of fights, I believe I have an idea. Create a skate park.

You may wonder how exactly that would help anything. By creating a spot aimed at teens to hang out, you create a concentrated spot where all the teens will come and socialize, essentially corralling them.

Next, put up a robust security force outside and inside the skate park, to catch any miscreants in the act. However, it can’t be too overwhelming a presence, or teens will feel too uncomfortable to stay there. Make sure to put up small shops or food trucks inside and outside, which will reduce the number of students who crowd Gelson’s, CVS, Starbucks and Garden Cafe.

Though this method sounds unorthodox, a study by Phys.org (an online science, research and technology news aggregator) revealed how the pandemic’s closing of “third spaces” is subtly affecting the youth of today, and how no effort has been made to restore them
click here.

The study references Ben Shirtcliff’s work on adolescent development, public space and social media.

“The ability of youth to freely enjoy public spaces, and to develop a sense of belonging and attachment to these environments, is critical for their physical, social, cognitive, and emotional development,” he said. “Young people represent a vital citizen group with legitimate rights to occupy and shape their public environments, yet they are often driven out of public places by adult users, restrictive bylaws, or hostile designs.”

With the Class of 2024 on their way to college, and schools closed for the summer, there will be a lull in these kinds of cases. It is the exact moment that the Palisades needs to develop countermeasures, and I encourage all the highly enthusiastic posters on Nextdoor to put their complaints towards the City Council for change, rather than let them languish on a website.

The Palisades High School Class of 2024 graduates.

This entry was posted in Community, Kids/Parenting, Schools. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Youth Need to Have More Stake in Palisades

  1. Doug Day says:

    Oh dear Lord, where will the NIMBYs and BANANAs countenance a skate park with the noise, the weed smoke, the thumping rap…

  2. JJ says:

    There are a few items a skate park can’t fix. Littering, shoplifting, and complete disrespect for this community those basics are taught at home, church, sports and Boy Scouts

  3. Marge says:

    I agree. A skate park is not the answer to the problems that are happening.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *