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I had a nice life, and I’d never heard of any type of violent crime taking place in my hometown. For me, violence would only be found miles away in Mexico City. At least that’s what national television showed me. Nevertheless, once I started growing up and reading local newspapers, I realized that something was wrong.
I don’t really know when it started, but for more than three years ago, Tijuana has been covered by a wave of violent crimes that are related to drug trafficking. Kidnappings, torturous murders, shootings in public places, persecutions, threats, army’s intromission, innocent lives taken away, it all has become part of the place I used to call home.
While some are scared to death and avoid going out, especially during night, other habitants say they don’t really care about Tijuana’s violence since “it’s an issue between gangsters.” Apparently, those people have never listened about shootings taking place inside of hospitals or outside schools, including kindergartens. There is a difference between being indifferent and being ignorant. I was ignorant. I thought Tijuana was a peaceful city and that all the things said by the media were exaggerations. Nevertheless, once you are informed that a neighbor was shot while in a park, or that one of your closest friends lost his father who was a policeman, or even when you listen to the story of a girl who’s been involved in the drug trafficking world all her life, that makes you think.
One of the things I’ve learned is that when people get used to violence, they just end up accepting it. The society has lost faith in its representatives which keeps some people from voting. That is, people do not expect change anymore.
In my opinion, Tijuana lacks people eager for a different reality. I believe that if someone has the voice and the courage, the rest will listen to him. Unfortunately, drug trafficking is too powerful that it actually silences people. This is logical in a society that doesn’t rely on their representatives.
People always blame the government when things go wrong. But what are people doing besides complaining and crossing their arms? I don’t believe that talking about how good the old times were will change the present or the future.
– 17-year-old from Mexico (female)
This entry is part of a series of essays and messages from the publication "Adolescence - Beyond the Stereotypes" - written, compiled and edited by adolescents and young people themselves with support from Voices of Youth and UNICEF.