Chicago Youth Mentors Take On School Violence

Last year, 70 children between the ages of 5 and 18 were murdered in Chicago.

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Chicago comes together to stop youth violence.

Last year, 70 children between the ages of 5 and 18 were murdered in Chicago. All but four were killed by gunshots, and nearly half of the deaths were gang-related. In total, nearly 700 children were wounded by gunfire last year.

Thaoi Lu of ColorLines is reporting that community leaders and police officials in Chicago are working overtime to prevent youth violence, which has made national headlines in recent years. While the brutal beating of 16-year-old Derrion Albert provoked outrage across the country, solutions to the violence may be more homegrown.

Chicago Public Schools are now in the second year of a two-year anti-violence initiative in high schools, and it's funded with almost $50 million in federal stimulus funds, reports NPR. One initiative, called "safe passage," works with the police, the Chicago Transit Authority and local community groups to ensure the safety of students to and from school through various gang-infested neighborhoods. 

The school system is also spending close to $20 million on mentors to intervene in the lives of a few hundred kids who are predicted to have more than a 10 percent chance of being shot. Despite these overwhelming figures, the reality is that most of the violence is concentrated in particular neighborhoods.

How sad is it that kids have to grow up fearful of violence en route to school in addition to violence on school grounds? It's about time those in authority did something about it. Seventy kids murdered in one year? That is completely unacceptable, not to mention shameful. We're glad that people are coming together to try and make a difference, but will it really change the outcome, or will it be more of the same?

Read more at ColorLines.

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