Looking to Blog Readers for Good Ideas to Reduce Teen Shootings
In the wake of the national publicity that accompanied the beating death of Chicago Public Schools student Derrion Albert, the issue of teen violence has come to the fore.
Violence toward students in the Chicago Public Schools is, however, neither new nor rare. Between September 2007 and December 2008, more than 500 Chicago Public school students were shot. Doing some back-of-the-envelope calculations, I’m guessing about 1 in 100 African-American male high school students gets shot each year in Chicago. Among the kids who have dropped out, no doubt the rate is much higher.
Back when he ran the Chicago Public Schools, current Secretary of Education Arne Duncan argued repeatedly and passionately that something needed to be done on this issue, but — and there is a lesson here — he couldn’t attract even a fraction of the attention generated by a YouTube video.
Now there appears to be the political will to try to address the problem, and I might be afforded the opportunity to play some small role in the process.
But how do we reduce the violence? The political reality is that any strategy has to reduce violence quickly. While early intervention into the lives of young children might lower future violence, more is needed in this setting. Shootings need to be reduced now.
I had a number of ideas, but after spending some time talking with a group of Black Soul gang members with the help of one of my heroes, Arloa Sutter, I’m not convinced that any of my approaches can work. The best quote of the day went to one of the older gang members: “If Li’l Wayne would rap the times table, that’s what they’d be doing.” By that he meant that the young kids follow whatever lead the hip-hop stars set. I don’t actually completely believe it, but I like the quote.
Thus, I turn to you, the blog readers. Assuming that you had access to some resources, what approach would you take to try to address this problem? Dare to be creative. Most of the obvious things have already been tried and largely failed. We desperately need fresh ideas.