MODESTO — An 18-year-old Modesto Junior College student was robbed and fatally stabbed while walking with his girlfriend in a park near Johansen High School after dark last week. How much do you worry about being out alone or with friends at night? Any places you definitely wouldn't go, or places you definitely feel safe?
Alicia Rorabaugh, Senior, Johansen High School
First, my deepest condolences go out to the student and his family. He was well known at Johansen and is missed greatly. When I go out, I am usually going for Chinese or to the movies with friends. At both locations, I feel completely safe. I go to well-populated areas in the evening because security is always apparent. I would never go to downtown Modesto at night, nor would I wander the streets of Empire. It is sad to say that being "on guard" all the time and surveying your surroundings is the only way to have a chance at protecting your safety.
Patrick Germann, Freshman, CSU, Stanislaus
Living in the country, I don't have to worry so much about going out alone at night, since there really is nowhere to go. But if I'm at a friend's in town, I think it's important to stay in the more well-lit areas or maybe not even walk outside at all after 6 p.m.
Mark Borges, Freshman, Hughson High School
Well, I don't have much of a social life and I live in the country, so I don't do much walking around after dark, unless I'm walking around Christmas Tree Lane near Christmas. I definitely wouldn't walk around in the city after dark without any form of protection. Be safe and stay inside.
Julie Fogarty, Sophomore, Central Catholic High School
The only time I'm really in Modesto is when I'm at school, where I always feel safe. In general, though, I definitely feel safe.
Annie Mathews, Senior, Gregori High School
I spend a lot of time in downtown Modesto and it definitely gets scarier as the sun goes down. People will often assume you're looking for the wrong kind of attention if you look different or are dressed strangely, so I try to blend in when I walk through bad neighborhoods and sometimes I bring a hat to cover my bright green hair if I want to go unnoticed. I always keep one earbud out so I can hear things around me. I never answer people on the city bus who ask about my age or where I live. And if someone creepy follows me when I get off the bus, I go into the nearest store until they leave. I may sound paranoid, but you can never be too careful, and one smart decision can save your life.
Abel Vargas, Junior, Davis High School
I don't feel safe. Things have been going on in Modesto these past couple of months and I feel something should be done immediately. I don't feel like I can go anywhere even school, with the gang violence that has been happening in and around Elliott (Alternative Education Center).
Martin Cepeda, Freshman, Pitman High School
Going outside when it's dark, with friends or by myself, is a common action. I'm not really worried that something may happen to me while I'm out because I usually go out in places that I know. Of course, I still try to remain alert about my surroundings, but it's not often that I get worried. Being in a group definitely helps with the safety and security aspect of being out in the dark. I would not recommend going to places that you or your friends don't know, though.
Shelby Sutter, Sophomore, Enochs High School
I personally wouldn't allow myself to be put in that type of situation, considering the day and age in which we live. As far as feeling safe in a place, I don't feel safe anywhere, except in my own house and in reality, my house could be violated.
This question is answered by members of Teens in the Newsroom, a journalism program for local high school students.