In Chicago’s West Pullman neighborhood, Jeremiah Sterling, 16, dodged bullets, saw a classmate beaten to death and got into the occasional scuffle, the Chicago Tribune reports.He left the city in December to live with an adult brother in Denver. For about six months, he found safety. Sterling, who was surprised that his brother could leave his front door unlocked at night, joined the choir at his new school and got his first part-time job.
In the end, Sterling couldn’t escape the violence of Chicago. On July 15, while home for the summer to be with his mother, LaWanda, he was shot to death in an alley, about a block from his mother’s home. “It was very difficult for me to comprehend,” LaWanda Sterling said. “I sent him to Colorado and he had only been home for 10 days.” The practice of families sending their children to live with relatives far away from city violence is common, said Dexter Voisin of the University of Chicago. Like Sterling, some of these children have died on trips back to the city. “Anecdotally, it appears to be successful for a period of time,” Voisin said. “(But) when the kid comes back to the same neighborhood, they are faced with the same history that they ran from.”