The town hall attracted more than 50 teens who discussed pressing issues facing Patterson adolescents. Molina, along with Patterson High School junior Veronica Pulido, president of the Patterson Youth Action Commission, moderated the forum.
The event was the first of several town halls to be hosted by Molina to encourage communication between different community stakeholder groups.
Molina said Tuesday, May 14 that he hosted the youth event first because some youth programs in the community were facing funding reductions due to losses in grant money.
Specifically, Patterson schools might see a reduction in their After School Program, he said. In addition, the Center for Human Services, a nonprofit group that runs the Patterson Teen Center, might see a reduction in grant funding from the United Way, Molina said.
The mayor said he felt those issues were the catalyst for placing youth at the head of the line.
“If we want to plan for our future, then we need to listen to our youth today,” Molina said, as he addressed the crowd on Thursday.
He said the community has a way of being tight-knit during crises, but needed to work on being close and listening to one another more often as a way of life.
One teen pointed out the problem of bullying both on and off school campuses.
“A lot of people in Patterson need to be more strict on bullying,” local student Gabriel Chadwick said. “Nothing changes because no one ever does anything about it.”
When pressed by Molina about what he would do about bullying, he said he would confront the bully.
“I’d talk to them face to face and let them know there are consequences.”
He suggested more detention as one way to deter youths from bullying others.
Attendee Anabel Martinez said she thought bullying resulted from familial circumstances.
Pulido of the YAC said teens must find a way to fix the problem.
Molina encouraged students to write to school board members about the prevalence of bullying or attend school board meetings and address them in person.
In addition to bullying, illicit drug and alcohol abuse also were problems among local youth, students said.
Anabel Sanchez said a lot of teen drug and alcohol abuse happens in the evening hours.
“We need to have more activities at night as an alternative,” she said.
It could cut down on the abuse, she said.
Teenager Jose Aguilera also suggested more events.
“I think there should be more dances — safe events,” he said. “Why do kids do (drugs)? Because there is nothing else to do.”
Aguilera also suggested using the resources already allocated instead of focusing on building expensive new teen centers.
“You can create things and get ideas now,” he said.
• Contact Nick Rappley at 892-6187, ext. 31 or firstname.lastname@example.org.