Amid a decrease in youth violence, violent crimes are still most concentrated in poorer, urban neighborhoods. Experts say kids who grow up in dangerous areas are more likely to become targets, NPR reports. In Chicago, a program called CeaseFire is working to curb violence by helping at-risk youth find employment and patrolling the streets to stop crimes before they happen.
University of Chicago researcher Dexter Voisin says teens growing up in dangerous neighborhoods have a range of coping strategies. They seek out non-violent friends, some become resigned, others strive to do well in school, and some cope by fighting. Part of the “code of survival on the streets” is to retaliate. He says youth begin to think, “‘if I don’t retaliate, it’s just a matter of time before I’m dead.'” Voisin thinks “the coping mechanisms for some boys are the same coping mechanisms that are also putting them in harm’s way in terms of homicide trends.” The U.S. Justice Department calls CeaseFire’s strategy effective. It found that the group’s interventions in risky neighborhoods and its work with gang members has helped decrease shootings and killings.