Like any urban setting, Chicago has its share of crime and violence. In just the last month over 30,000 various crimes have been reported in the Chicago area according to Every Block Chicago. While these numbers might seem overwhelming and the violence inevitable, certain groups are working towards making Chicago a safer place.
Safe Youth Chicago is an organization focused on finding ways to make Chicago a safer place for the city’s youth. Chicago personal injury attorney Robert Kreisman is a member of Safe Youth Chicago, a program affiliated with the Union League Club of Chicago’s Public Affairs Committee. On May 24, 2010, the organization held a luncheon to raise awareness about Chicago youth violence and open up a forum on possible ways to reverse the violence.
United States Marshal Darry McPherson addressed the issue of youth violence and discussed his department’s work with the superintendent of the Cook County Sheriff’s Department Gang Intelligence Unit. In addition, the Chicago Police Department’s Frank Diaz and Cook County Sheriff’s Criminal Intelligence Unit’s Franco Domma spoke about their personal experience dealing with Chicago youth. Their stories and knowledge provided invaluable insight into what is happening on Chicago’s streets and demonstrated ways we as individuals can become more aware of the warning signs of violence.
The program was attended by over 65 club members and guests, each with a personal investment in reducing Chicago’s violence. In addition to offering up statistics and information about gang violence and gang signs and symbols, the program also offer some information on the positive and preventive efforts that can be made to reduce youth violence.
Mike Kiss and Michael Chioros, the past and current presidents of the Union League’s Boys and Girls Club, spoke about the benefits and rewards of the program during its 90 years of service. Over 15,000 at risk boys and girls have benefited from the program, almost all of which have graduated from high school and with a high percentage going on to graduate from college. In addition to the educational benefits of the program, it also has been shown to decrease teen pregnancy rates among its participants and result in little or no criminal activity among its youth.
Overall, the Safe Youth Chicago luncheon was informative and eye opening, but ended on a hopeful note. We all have a responsibility to work towards making Chicago a safer place for all its residents, but especially its youth. Safe Youth Chicago will continue to have meetings and programs to continue its efforts towards decreasing Chicago youth violence.
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