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Liz’s story: Cindi’s tragic death should be a wake up call for all schools

Blog post

Liz Gomez works as the Site Coordinator for Woodcraft Rangers at South East High School in South Gate, California. Since South East High student Cindi Santana was murdered in September 2011, she has been supporting the leadership of youth who are working to ensure that all students, “Live Violence Free.”

Last year, when Cindi Santana was stabbed in the quad area of South East High School on September 30th, allegedly by her ex-boyfriend, our community was devastated. Many students witnessed the attack. When Cindi died, students were heartbroken to have lost a peer and a friend. It struck fear among the students, parents and the whole community. It added stress to the students. Parents were scared of sending the students to school.

Very soon after, students wanted to take action to help the community to heal, and to prevent future tragedies from occurring. We partnered with East Los Angeles Women’s Center, who provided weekly training to students on dating abuse and helped the students develop the skills to be peer educators.

The students have hosted workshops and an assembly. Over 1,700 students and friends have signed a pledge in honor of Cindi to “Live Violence Free.” Every person who has taken the pledge has received a bracelet with her initials. The students worked with the Mayor of South Gate to declare February Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month.

The students have worked very hard to bring the community together to make change. We at Woodcraft Rangers are very proud of our students. The students are learning what a difference they can make as they step up as leaders. But it’s just the beginning. Much more needs to be done.
Every student deserves to be safe in their school. Cindi’s tragic death should be a wake up call for all schools. We hope that communities across California will come together to take action to stop dating abuse.