Students uncover startling statistic about Marin youth


In well-to-do Marin County, there appears to be a conflict between perception and reality. It might be a great place to raise a child, but not to be a teen.

The county is buzzing about a newspaper investigation that finds Marin County teens suffer the highest arrest rates for misdemeanors in all California, and that includes for adults. The exposé wasn't done by a recognized newspaper or TV station, but rather a school newspaper.

"We have all heard about the dying of the press, of print. And we try to stay faithful to the print and produce a good paper," The Bark co-editor-in-chief Paris Grayley said.

The newsroom happens to also be a classroom at Redwood High School. The Bark has already won awards as one of the top nine school newspapers in the country.

"We feel we are the first people to uncover this issue and shine a light on it," The Bark co-editor Ben Breuner said.

Breuner and co-editor Michael Weinstein wrote the piece. They began their investigation last summer.

"It was an issue we were passionate about, that we had heard about, and no one had written about," Weinstein said.

"We talked with lots of kids, looked at lots of numbers in the Department of Justice, talked to a lot of police officers, and began to build a picture that there might be discrimination against teenagers going on in our county," Breuner said.

It is an assertion with which not all local law enforcement tends to agree. In the Twin Cities, Chief Todd Cusimano notes that of 325 misdemeanor arrests last year, only 60 involved teenagers.

"The Bark and their reporting, does good reporting and it does bring good conversations. But what we found from the last few years, it is a perception," he said.

It's a perception that has now become a discussion. It's just another byproduct of the power of journalism and in this case, from the most unlikely of outlets.

"We do it to try to make a difference," Breuner said.

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