OPINION: School violence, the media and Gardena High School

imageOn Tuesday, January 18, there was a shooting at our school, Gardena High. It happened during the beginning of the 3rd period.

The truth is that through the chaos, we, the students, managed to stay calm, unlike the crazy fools the media made us out to be.

A few days later, El Camino Real High School also made the news because of gunfire, however, they were portrayed as calm good students. The media also talked about how the kids at El Camino had to pee in sinks and trash cans.

Many news anchors portrayed the Camino Real students as “those poor kids.” Most news outlets expressed sympathy for the circumstances the El Camino students were forced to endure. We also had to pee in sinks and did not have any food or drinks while we were on lock down, but there was no sympathy for us, only talk of gun control.

Photos in the news about the shooting at Gardena depicted a young black man in handcuffs. The reports emphasized prior incidents of violence at our school. Yet the photos of El Camino depicted smiling white teenagers “overcoming” the shooting.

The message was that El Camino kids were good respectful kids, while Gardena kids were bad.

Even though we have many uplifting events and student programs at our school, the media doesn’t embrace the good, only the bad. For example, we had No Haters week and designed a unity mural; we organized a youth media conference; advocated for undocumented students, and participated in Denim Day. Every year students from our school also get accepted into prestigious universities.

But the media consistently looked for and portrayed students who fit the stereotype of what they thought Gardena was.


Women’s Leadership Project of Gardena High School


  1. riKu Matsuda says:

    Dear Women’s Leadership Project of Gardena High School,

    Thank you for writing and distributing this important information! My favorite line- “The truth is that through the chaos, we, the students, managed to stay calm, unlike the crazy fools the media made us out to be.” Beautiful!


  2. I applaud you for your ongoing efforts…know that you are saluted for the many “outstanding” things you are doing in your community and at school on a daily basis. Continue to be the exuberant, talented, resilient, and caring committed students you are! Your works and deeds are honored by your community…even if the media may not give you the “shout outs” you are so worthy of. I am proud of each and everyone of you…always know that if no one told you they love and appreciate you today…Dr. Garrett, Principal of Peary Middle School does…..Blessings!

  3. Celes King IV says:

    To All Students In The Area Surrounding and South Los Angeles:

    There is a concerted effort to change the education in the area for the worse under the guise of making it better. We have many examples of our communities being under seige in a comprehensive manner. You are wholly correct in you observations as to presentation. Black and Brown students are being feed propaganda to keep them divided when their concerns are mutual however, the divided community keeps value down and people wanting to take flight. Flight I say, yes because it is about the land and future control of political power. We have numbers together but if we are steeped in inadequate education and no iopportuunity on the horizon it creates the perpetuation of an endless cycle of not haves. This is a fundemental part of the capitol versus labor war. A war we are desdined to lose unless we take responsibilty for ourselves our oneness and promote quality education for our own. If we are not impaired we have the tools we must use them or be the fodder of the elite. We can and will all it takes is choice and focus. I commend you for your insight. Now look at where you are a few miles from the ports, a few miles from Orange county Financial Center, afew miles from the Airport, a few miles from downtown and the Alameda Corridor is the breadbasket of the wests transportation corridor. The land remember the land. Remember the Hospital they closed 535 beds, now they put in 135 beds. When the 535 was built approximately 350,000 people lived between downtowmn and the Harbor now it is a million and a half. Does that indicate the change or simple gentrification coming to us. We can change it together we are a force, we are the people.

  4. Ellen Schneider says:

    What a powerful statement. Brava, Women’s Leadership Project, for setting the record straight and exposing how the “news” focused on stereotypes. The South LA Report does it again!

  5. Elena Halpert-Schilt says:

    Thank you Women’s Leadership Project of Gardena High School for your powerful retelling of the shooting that occurred at GHS and for your positive energy to demand that we all question the media’s viewpoint. Editorial reporting at its best is unbiased and non-judgmental. Clearly the media need to reexamine their reports and how it is reshaping current stories. Like you, I too want to hear more about the inspiring events and initiatives you have implemented such as the No Haters week, your unity mural; the youth media conference; participation in Denim Day and the advocacy efforts for undocumented students. And, if the situation at GHS is anywhere near as grim as the media make it out to be, those students from GHS that get accepted into prestigious universities are to be commended and celebrated … in a big way! These are the positive media stories that we can all benefit from. Thanks for your story and your efforts, Elena Halpert-Schilt, L.A. County Human Relations Commission

  6. School violence out of control may include excessive corporal punishment, bullying, harassment and sexual abuse. These programms will have an enormous impact on their school, studying skills, and ultimately in their adult life. Students attending a school where school violence out of control occurs, experts say, clearly will need crisis and grief counseling and other forms of intervention to cope with tragedy.

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  7. LA Observer says:

    What is the status of the case? Will the student be tried as an adult?

  8. cosa aranda says:

    Every school has its share of bullies. For the most part, childhood bullying continues into adulthood as more serious felonies or criminal convictions. That is why bullying should not be ignored in school. It is equally important to incorporate into the school curriculum, programmes on social skills and conflict resolution for students, teachers, and even parents.
    Not only should students and teachers know that school violence is a serious problem, but parents and community members should also be concerned for violence in school as well. Together, everyone can help in the drive to curb or prevent school violence. In this way, school violence becomes intolerable and students learn to develop healthier social behaviours. Collaboration among all key stakeholders also help in the identification of violent behaviours, violent students, and identifying situations that ignite violence. Addressing violence and aggression in schools is therefore a proactive initiative that all schools should adopt.
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