Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=141673
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 Bree Tracey/Medill

Mayor Daley (left) and Ron Huberman, CEO of Chicago public schools, spoke at a conference at Little Black Pearl Art and Design Center to discuss youth violence. 


Daley promotes after-school programs to combat youth violence

by Bree Tracey
Oct 08, 2009


The day after top federal officials visited Chicago, Mayor Richard M. Daley on Thursday continued discussions on what he calls a “troubling and frustrating challenge” -- violence in schools


His press conference was held at Little Black Pearl Art and Design Center, 1060 E. 47th St. an organization that lets youths and adults participate in arts and entrepreneurial endeavors.

Daley stressed the importance of parenting, mentoring and after-school programs to fight youth violence.
“You need after-school programs,” Daley said. “You cannot blame law enforcement.”

More funding for after-school programs will come from money left over from the lost 2016 Olympics bid.

Daley also mentioned providing more funding towards law enforcement for immediate relief. The Chicago Police Department will soon launch a Safe Student Program that will deploy an additional 44 officers to work in 3-hour overtime shifts. They will be assigned to high priority schools.

The issue of youth and gang violence in Chicago was highlighted when 16-year-old Derrion Albert from Fenger High School was beaten to death with a wooden board in an attack that was videotaped on a mobile phone.

“When you lose a child you lose a part of your soul. You lost a part of your whole life,” Daley said.

“It has to start at home,” said Lashone Lusk, a program supervisor at the Youth Service Project. “We have to go back to the roots. You know the school can only do so much. I’ve been in the classrooms, and the teachers can only do so much.”

Calling youth violence a “nationwide epidemic,” Lusk says students with parents who do not give them the attention they need get angry and turn to gangs.  

“The gang offers that type of sanctuary for them,” he said. “Some kids don’t even know why they are in gangs."

“If there is violence in the home, there is violence in the street. I bet you,” said Daley. “I’ve said time and time again: Parents and loved ones must accept responsibility to keep children safe.”

Daley said the city will take a more holistic approach to youth violence, but there is only so much officials can do during school hours.