Medina: The Violence of Not Prioritizing Youth 

Oswaldo Farias

There is a crisis in Santa Ana. Violence in our communities has claimed the life of one too many young people. Too many families are mourning the death of a child as a result of violence in our communities. One can’t help but be extremely outraged by the possibility that some elected officials may be considering to use the recent death of young people in Santa Ana as a pretext to pay back a political debt owed to the Santa Ana Police Officers Association.

According to a recent budgetary analysis conducted by The Advancement Project and published by Resilience Orange County, the Police Department receives 53% of the City Budget, which for this fiscal year amounted to over $120,000,000. On the other hand, the Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Services only receives about 8% of the City Budget, which this fiscal year amounted to a little over $19,000,000. This is the crisis that has been happening in Santa Ana, the crisis of not prioritizing youth, which has resulted in violence and numerous deaths.

Santa Ana is a City with a population of about 330,000 residents and a significantly young population. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, about a third of the population is below the age of 18. That means that over 100,000 Santa Ana residents are minors and children. If we are wise and consider the science readily available on youth development, we would consider the youth population in Santa Ana to include people up to the age of 24-25. In doing so, the youth population in Santa Ana increases significantly beyond 100,000 residents.

The Coalition of Orange County Community Health Centers recently released the results from a Behavioral Health Needs Assessment Survey. The findings reveal something profoundly troubling. Those surveyed stated that clinics in Santa Ana met 0% of youth behavioral health needs in regards to supportive services and case management. The findings call our attention to an interesting fact. Santa Ana has over 100,000 young residents and yet there is no Santa Ana Department of Healthy Youth Development and the only systemic response to youth behavior that the city funds, is the Police Department.

The credibility and intentions of any elected official that calls for a one-dimensional approach to the violence in our community by proposing increases to the already disproportionate spending on the Police Department, will be questioned. Serious conversations regarding violence in our communities require substance, which means going beyond the, “let’s talk about gun control” rhetoric as well. Let’s talk about what is causing youth trauma, youth stress, youth anger, youth rage in Santa Ana. Let’s talk about what science states are best non-suppression, non-punitive based responses and practices regarding violence prevention and intervention. Let’s talk about rent control, housing, green space, safe streets and socio-emotional supports for developing youth. Let’s talk about creating a Santa Ana Youth Department that can build and sustain a youth focused city infrastructure promoting healthy youth development.

Nelson Mandela once said, “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” What keener revelation can we obtain from assessing the status of youth investment in Santa Ana, than the tragic consequences of failing to meet the needs of our young residents?

Abraham Medina is the Executive Director of Resilience Orange County. He is currently enrolled at UCI working on a Masters program in Legal and Forensic Psychology at UCI. He is a DACA recipient and has been part of the immigrant youth movement in Orange County over the past decade

Opinions expressed in editorials belong to the authors and not Voice of OC.

Voice of OC is interested in hearing different perspectives and voices. If you want to weigh in on this issue or others please contact Voice of OC Involvement Editor Theresa Sears at TSears@voiceofoc.org

  • justanon

    The incoherence of the ignorant.

    The two commenters here are trying to discredit Abraham Medina’s “doctorate” premise (even though his bio clearly states that he’s in a Master’s program, but hey, never let facts or details get in the way of a good slime) as “liberal” and then go on to agree with his ideas. I guess these two poster boys for lower educashun never learned the meaning of … irony, lol.

    Further, LF old bigot praises and blesses the accomplished and very impressive Abraham Medina before telling him all about the high percentage of “illegals” in SA and how “your leaders have declared your city to be a Sanctuary City that protects and harbors the illegals” and admonishes him to “inquire how many of your residents (or children) have been injured or killed by illegal foreigners within the boundaries of your city?” without apparently realizing that the “good man” himself is a DACA recipient.

    To quote Bugs bunny … “what a maroon”. Ha, ha, ha!

    • LFOldTimer

      I knew you couldn’t resist crawling out of the woodwork with more provocation and personal insults on the comment board. That insidious behavior is deeply ingrained in your personality. Just curious…do you live alone? I pray there’s someone in your life who watches over you.

      Mr. Medina’s DACA status has no bearing on whether he is a ‘good man’. Many who live in violation of the law are ‘good people’. But all nations have laws and all nations have borders. That, in part, is what make nations sovereign and civilized. It’s just a fact. A fact that seems resistant to implanting itself between your two ears and sticking. lol.

      Those with doctorates should be held to the same legal standards as peasants in a land that claims to adhere to the sacred principle of ‘equality under the law’.

      But naturally that concept will fly above your head as well.

      Have a nice day, Grumpy.

  • Manuel Delgadillo

    Another liberal working on a doctorate. This article makes it seem this is only a Latino issue. This deterioration of youth is everywhere, not just in Santa Ana. Mr. Abraham Medina in a picture perfect society your idea or vision would work unfortunately this is not the case.

    • LFOldTimer

      Come on, Manuel. He’s working on a doctorate. The faculty committees that approve those things are made up of nearly all liberals. You don’t expect him to blame the problem on unbridled illegal immigration or lack of civic engagement, do you? lol.

      The gist of his argument is correct. But in a world of corruption nothing will change, as power settles everything. And as we all well know – power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

  • LFOldTimer

    Yes, Mr. Medina. You express very valid and serious concerns.

    As I have opined, the council has turned SA into a police state. That is the reason 53% of the city budget goes to the police department, as opposed to only 8% of the city budget being spend on Recreation and Community services. That should be a HUGE red flag for every resident in the city. Money reflects values.

    Most of that police money goes to cop salary and benefits. I suggest that you research how much individual SA cops are compensated and if it makes sense from a standpoint of the educational requirements to secure a job with the Department. That information is accessible to the you and all residents. Ask yourself if someone else in a job with the same educational eligibility mandates would find themselves in the top 5% bracket of all income earners and be allowed to retire at age 55 (or younger) with multi-million dollar pensions?

    It’s common sense that if you keep a child occupied in positive activities the likelihood that he or she would go to the dark side and afoul of the law is greatly reduced. It was true when I was a kid and it remains true today. But hiring more cops to arrest children is much more lucrative for the politicians – since they profit by fat campaign contributions from the police unions and political endorsements. It’s NOT about the children. IT’S ABOUT THE MONEY AND THE POWER. The sooner the people understand that, the better.

    So I sympathize with you, Mr. Medina. You’re a good man for bringing this to the attention of the people. May God bless you.

    One other thing….I read that 40% of the SA population are illegal immigrants. SA never tells us what percentage of the criminals they arrest are illegals. They pretend it’s not their business to know. ha. And your leaders have declared your city to be a Sanctuary City that protects and harbors the illegals.

    Perhaps you should inquire how many of your residents (or children) have been injured or killed by illegal foreigners within the boundaries of your city? You would probably have to pull teeth to get that information since it has been made taboo by your intelligentsia. But it should be your right to know.

    Independent thought is the key here, Mr. Medina. The most important value in ANY society is to protect the children. And sometimes you have to step on toes to get that done.