In some of Chicago’s troubled neighborhoods, boys may join gangs at a young age. For many, it’s a road fraught with violence, reports NPR in the second in a series. A group called Becoming a Man (BAM) is working on getting to those youngsters before they’re drawn into gang life or drop out of school.
Tony DiVittorio, a 42-year-old, muscular and tattooed social worker, created BAM in 2003 to mentor boys. He says young males are often more likely than females to be victims or perpetrators of violent crime. BAM operates in 16 public high schools and elementary schools. The students are often at risk of failing, have behavior problems or have no positive male role models in their lives. BAM counselors conduct clinical assessments, provide individual counseling if needed and consult with teachers. The curriculum is built around core principles like integrity, accountability, and positive ways to express anger. The University of Chicago Crime Lab is evaluating BAM and other programs designed to curb violence. Co-director Harold Pollack says BAM, at a cost of about $1,000 per student, is promising.