Sunday, March 05, 2006

Stray bullet kills family's 'angel'

Today, March 4, 2006, the front page story of the Chicago Tribune shows a picture of a 14 year old honor student who was killed on Friday morning when a stray bullet fired from an assault-type rifle went through a window of her house and struck her in the head. The paper gave the address as the 6700 block of South Honore Street. I looked up the zip code. It is 60636.

If you look at this zip code map http://www.chicagoreader.com/cgi-bin/sf/zipmap.cgi?hfs you can see where the 60636 zip code is in the South part of Chicago.

If you look at this map showing poverty in Chicago http://webpages.charter.net/jcory17/geotech/pic_lib/census2k/maps/image2.htm you'll see that this area has 20-40% concentrations of poverty.

If you look at this map you can see that there are numerous poorly performing public schools in this area, which is a contributor to kids dropping out, getting in gangs, and contributing to street violence. http://webpages.charter.net/jcory17/geotech/pic_lib/census2k/maps/image4.htm

The youth who was shot was an "honor student" who was trying to escape this violence. However, if you search the program locator database at http://www.tutormentorexchange.net/Partner/CC/Program_Locator/prgloc.asp for the 60636 zip code, looking for a mixture of tutoring/mentoring, like you see at http://www.cabriniconnections.net, you'll find no listings.

This means that if there are any programs in this area working to keep kids in school and out of gangs and violence, they are operating in isolation, and struggling on their own to find resources to do this work. Or, there are no programs.

In either case, the tragedy of a 14 year old girl should be enough to get lots of people angry enough to want to do something.

I don't see anything in the Tribune that calls on businesses, foundations, churches and others to help start non-school tutor/mentor programs in this area, or that points to others parts of the city with similar problems, where programs do operate, but struggle for donations to support their work.

Maybe we'll see this in editorials in the coming week.

However, if you want to stop this violence, you can become a volunteer, donor, or a leaders. You can use the Program Locator to decide what neighborhood and what programs you want to help. You can support the Tutor/Mentor Leadership Conference, http://www.tutormentorconference.bigstep.com, so programs can come together and learn from each other. You can even support the T/MC and our efforts to help new programs start in areas like Englewood, by providing knowledge people can use to build new programs, and tools like the Program Locator, and Map Gallery, so people can find programs already operating in neighborhoods with too much poverty, and too many poorly performing schools.

Finally, you can become a link between this message and this blog and your friends, family, co-workers, faith community, college, alumni network and others who need to be involved, but have not yet been introduced.

We can try to prevent future tragedies like this by building programs that keep kids coming to school, keep kids safe in non-school hours, and keep kids focused on legal jobs and careers.

Or you can just ignore the problem and wait until the next time this story is on the front page of our major papers.

Daniel F. Bassill
Tutor/Mentor Connection

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