Two Chicago nonprofits, together with the University of Chicago, unveiled a counseling and sports program this week aimed at stemming chronic youth violence in Chicago’s public schools, reports the Christian Science Monitor. The problem is long-standing, but it received international attention in September when student Derrion Albert was killed when he was caught in a brawl as he walked home from school. The incident was captured on videotape. Since September of 1997, more than 500 public school students have been shot.
Chicago is using a growing array of efforts against youth violence – including a new $30 million program that tries to target 1,200 kids most at-risk. It will be rigorously evaluated by University of Chicago researchers. The hope is that, if effective, it could be a model for Chicago and other cities dealing with growing violence among young men. “Gun violence makes life nearly unlivable in some communities in Chicago,” says Jens Ludwig, director of the University of Chicago Crime Lab. Ludwig says that this doesn’t set out to be a “silver bullet” solution. He hopes it will prove an effective – and, at $1,000 per student, cost-effective – way to make inroads. In Becoming A Man – Sports Edition, boys in 15 schools will meet weekly with a counselor for an hour. They will use discussion, games, role playing, video, and physical exercises to learn how to take accountability for their actions, develop positive goals, and channel their anger in productive ways.