Saturday, May 12, 2007

Five Teens Shot, One Killed. Riding Bus Leaving School

The headlines of the Chicago papers this week tell of the tragedy of five teens who were shot in mid afternoon, while riding a bus on the way home from school. One teen died, saving the life of another.

On the radio this morning I heard the Chief of Police ask "What does it take to raise our anger about this?"

I've been asking the same thing for the past 14 years. If you search Map Quest for the location of Percy Julian High School,10330 S Elizabeth St., Chicago, IL 60643-2394, which the teens attended, you'll see that the school is near 103rd Street, and right near Route 57 highway, which brings several hundred thousand people from the suburbs into the Chicago LOOP to work every day.

If you search the Tutor/Mentor Program Locator for the 60643 zip code, and narrow your search to programs serving high school youth, you'll see that our database only lists one small organization in the area of the high school.

Thus, my question is, "What will it take to get a few thousand of those people driving past this neighborhood every day to take an hour or two a week to help build comprehensive, mentor-rich, non-school tutoring, mentoring and learning centers that would compete for the participation of the kids who become dropouts and later are attracted to gangs?"

If you know of people who are concerned about this issue, not just in the 60643 zip code of Chicago, but in the other high poverty neighborhoods of Chicago, Aurora, Rockford, Detroit and other cities around the country, we're holding a conference on May 17 and 18, and one of the panel discussions addresses violence prevention. Others talk about ways to build and sustain the types of programs that are needed in these neighborhoods.

If you can't attend the conference, form a learning group at your church, business, civic organization, college or local bar. Spend an hour each month reading some of the information posted here and here

If you spend just a little time each week learning about these issues, then you'll be less likely to drive by them as you pass through these neighborhoods coming and going to work every day.

You can be come a leader and you can connect your own network, so that we begin to build comprehensive, long-term solutions that reduce the number of tragedies like this.

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