Chicago has had major problems with gangs attacking people throughout the city, including school kids going to and from school each day. I’m sure many of us remember the terrible online video that showed the fatal beating of high school honor student, Derrion Albert, as he headed home from school last fall.
Now there is good news from Chicago. The city plans to spend $25 million in federal stimulus funds on three school violence prevention programs. About $10 million will go towards a mentoring program for 1,500 high-risk students. The mentors will help the students find jobs and line up tutoring and social services.
An additional $10 million will be spent at 38 high-risk schools, helping to educate students on behavioral management, leadership training, and conflict resolution.
The Chicago Police Department will use the remaining funds to pay for a community watch program at 13 high schools identified as having high crime and active gangs.
The part I like about this program is that 20 to 30 monitors per neighborhood will monitor safe passages–routes students can use to safely get to school in the mornings and home in the afternoons. They will have two-way radios to communicate with police officers and school officials. But I also would like to see full background checks performed on these individuals before being hired.
The idea of safe passages isn’t new, but it can really make a difference in a neighborhood. It should involve parents, school personnel, police, neighborhood residents, and business owners.
Children need to be able to get to and from school without fear of being attacked. I wish Chicago the best with these three programs.
Patrick Fiel is public safety advisor for ADT Security Services and a former executive director of school security for Washington, D.C. Public School System. He also served 22 years in the Army Military Police Corps, where his responsibilities included day-to-day security operations at the West Point Military Academy. During his time with ADT, Fiel has conducted more than 100 television, radio, newspaper, and magazine interviews as a public and school safety expert.
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