Jailed Chicago Teens Explain The Violence

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In Chicago, where the number of shootings last year soared, it’s often young people who become both perpetrators and victims. The Cook County Juvenile Justice Center holds about 200 to 300 young residents awaiting trial at the Temporary Detention Center. Among these residents are Leonard and Nigel, both 17. The two, along with several other detainees, were part of a summit where participants shared strategies about how to decrease violence, reports NPR. Last year in Chicago, there was a huge jump in the number of murders and injuries by gunshot; more than 760 murders and more than 4,000 people injured by gunshot were recorded.

Leonard said the violence isn’t always about gangs fighting over drugs or turf. “Some people do it just to make a name for [themselves] to try to get some fame or something,” he said. “Some people do it because they actually lost people… or they are forced into it.” Some are trying to avenge a friend’s death, he said. Nigel said while revenge is often a motive behind some of the violence, peer pressure can also be a factor. Leonard and Nigel said they’ve learned at the detention center how to resolve differences or difficulties they may have in the street. What’s missing in the neighborhood, they said, are mentors and role models who can steer young people the right way. Other detainees called for limits on guns, more neutral zones in neighborhoods, and more after school programs.


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