Violence plagues Bay Area youth

Violence plagues Bay Area youth
February 21, 2013, 11:15 am
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Robert Braunstein
Cal-Hi Sports

On our next show we will run a story completely different from what we normally do. Our staff was deeply disturbed by the shooting death of former McClymonds football player Trevion Foster on February 13. Friends say he was playing a dice game at a San Leandro elementary school when he was shot and killed. That same week a San Jose High School student was stabbed to death near his high school.

We did not know the San Jose student but we did know Trevion. He won a Play of the Week on our show last year and attended our end of the season awards banquet in May. He was a bright, funny, enthusiastic young man who seemed to be doing everything right. He had two parents at home to help lead him on the right path. He was attending Junior College, and continued to play football.

McClymonds High sits in a tough part of Oakland. The west side is known for its shootings, some gang related, some not. The students at McClymonds live with this every day. When Trevion was murdered it made the news that day and was forgotten. These killings are so commonplace it almost acceptable. But it’s not acceptable to our staff. We wanted to talk about it to let people know Trevion Foster did not deserve this. A 19 year old shot and killed over a dice game is not okay.

In the story, we talked with Derek Smith, who is an assistant basketball coach at Castro Valley High. Smith also works for the County Juvenile Probation Department. He knows what these young people face in their lives. Too often there is only one parent raising the child and that parent is working two jobs to survive. With no discipline in the home and lots of temptation outside the home, there is trouble.

Smith says we as a society need to get involved to help. Government money needs to be spent more wisely to help these kids. Churches need to step up to get young people involved once again. Smith says sports and other outside activities need to be a part of the answer. He believes African Americans need to get back to a time when family was important, when neighbors would join together to watch out for each other.

These are all good answers, but whether we will act continues to be the question. Most of us live in relatively safe areas where are kids can play outside without fear for their lives. When you walk into a McClymonds basketball game, you are greeted by a school police officer with a metal detecting wand to make sure you don’t have a gun. Two weeks ago a game was rescheduled to be played at nine in the morning because of a real threat of gang violence if the game was played after school. This is not okay.

While editing this story, I watched Trevion Foster smiling broadly as the team picture for the Silver Bowl champs was taken the day after Thanksgiving last year. To know that his life is over really hurts. I can only imagine what he parents and little brother are going through right now. His football coach Curtis McCauley was crushed.

I run a high school sports show and don’t pretend to have the answers, but on our show this week we will ask the questions. Maybe someday we won’t have to grieve the loss of another Trevion Foster.