By Lily Angel, Divine Hanna, and Jasmine Kim
There has been a recent increase in crimes committed by Granada Hills Charter (GHC) students in the community after school hours. These crimes include assault, theft, destruction of private property, littering, loitering, and indecent exposure in local businesses. As a result of this increase in crime, local businesses have had to curtail their hours, hire extra security and more employees, as well as handle increased complaints from customers.
“Businesses call the administration and report shoplifting, profanity, window breaking, and disrespect. There are a lot of things that are becoming a bigger issue because now the community is saying that it’s all Granada students,” School Resource Officer Veronica Sanchez said.
These are not harmless behaviors without consequences. Some of these behaviors could lead to jail time or significant fines. Having so much student-related crime also impacts the reputation of our school.
“Being at Granada Hills Charter, we know that students try their hardest here at school. The school staff, administrators, and everyone try their hardest to make sure everyone understands what they’re supposed to do and what they’re not supposed to do. We understand as teenagers, some people sometimes make mistakes. We want you guys to feel free to come and talk to us, so we can try to guide you in a good direction,” Sanchez said.
Starting this school year, Del Taco has closed down its dining area after school from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m. The business has chosen to lose money rather than deal with the damages caused by our students’ actions. That certainly emphasizes how negatively some GHC students are affecting our community.
Other businesses have taken precautions to limit the amount of crimes committed in the area. One local business requires students to leave their backpacks at the front of the store in order to prevent shoplifting because it has been such a problem.
At this point, most local businesses have chosen to contact the school with issues rather than the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). However, that does not mean the businesses will continue to be understanding.
“Just because they haven’t done it yet doesn’t mean they won’t do it. They’re really working with the school and with me so we can try to work something out and we can get our message across to students that this kind of behavior is not the type of activity that we want to be involved in,” Sanchez said.
The increased measures that businesses have taken to protect their customers and their merchandise are certainly understandable. Actions have consequences, and we are lucky that these students’ deplorable actions have not prevented the rest of the student population from enjoying the shopping or restaurants nearby. The majority of GHC students are appreciative of the community and what they offer us.
Our community and the businesses within it are family-friendly places. However, due to the actions committed by a few students, the title “family-friendly” is being challenged. Families and elderly people should be able to support these businesses without, for example, receiving unsolicited pictures airdropped onto their smart phones when in a business establishment.
Understandably, actions such as these tarnish the community’s view of our school, which has maintained an upstanding reputation for decades.
“It hurts our reputation as a school and then it would possibly hurt our lunch pass privilege. If one person does something bad, then it ruins it for the rest of us. If one kid shoplifts, it could affect all of our lunch passes in the future,” senior Max Endler said.
The actions committed by a few students do not reflect the entire student body. Embedded in the school’s mission statement is that it will produce students who are “productive responsible citizens in a diverse society.” The students committing these crimes clearly do not think about the rest of society, only themselves, which is appalling.
“The school has a reputation of being excellent. We’re good students. People even go so far as to say we’re teachers’ pets and whatnot. I feel like it’s because of that reputation students feel like they have an obligation to break that stereotype and be reckless and irresponsible in the Ralph’s parking lot,” senior Caren Ramirez said.
We are very lucky as a school to be situated so close to so many varied businesses. Especially for students who do not drive yet, it is convenient to have so many options within walking distance from campus. We are within a five minute walk from coffee, hair styling, restaurants, retail shopping, etc. Especially for senior students who have their lunch passes, the closeness to restaurants and grocery stores is very convenient when it comes to purchasing food within the brief 30 minute lunch break.
“It’s nice to be within walking distance from stores nearby. There are so many options to choose from and it’s nice to be able to leave campus with friends during lunch.” senior Aydan Foong Chong said.
Students can forget that this is a privilege.
As a part of the GHC community, we know we are better than this. The negative behaviors students have engaged in near and against the local businesses are unacceptable. Students should not be committing crime purely because they are bored or trying to show off to friends.
This does not represent Granada as a whole. As an academically and behaviorally exceptional school, these actions and students bring down the image of what we represent: academic excellence, unmatched opportunity, and a foundation for success.
Students need to control themselves if they wish to go to these places. Adults in this situation would be arrested. The only leeway here is because we are students, still learning our place in the community. We are not above or apart from the community. We are an integral part and we should take pride in that instead of destroying that relationship.