Chicago’s student murder epidemic, and a growing response to it

According to a recent CNN report, 36 children and teens have been murdered in Chicago so far this year — more than one a week — and local activists and faith leaders believe the slayings aren’t getting the attention they deserve.

Had 36 kids died of swine flu this year, “there would be this great influx of resources that say, ‘Let’s stop this, lets deal with this,’ ” Pfleger said.

Instead, because violence is driving the epidemic, “We’re hiding it. We’re ignoring it. We’re denying the problems,” he said.

The current US Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, expressed similar disappointment in 2007, when Chicago recorded 31 murdered children during the school year and he was serving as the city’s CEO of public schools. Video Watch why the violence seems worse now »

At the time, Duncan said “all hell would break loose” if these killings took place in one of the metro area’s upscale enclaves.

“If that happened to one of Chicago’s wealthiest suburbs — and God forbid it ever did — if it was a child being shot dead every two weeks in Hinsdale or Winnetka or Barrington, do you think the status quo would remain? There’s no way it would,” he said.

This time, if a growing consortium of Chicago churches has its way, all hell will finally break loose from the city’s public schools. After learning about 20/20 Vision for Schools at the 2008 Urban Youth Workers Institute, a Chicago network of faith-based youth workers began exploring a similar anti-violence approach to education reform in September 2008. Five months later, Vision Nehemiah launched 20/20 Vision for Schools Chicago in February 2009. To date, over 40 Chicago churches have adopted public schools for meaningful prayer, advocacy, and service.

Fore more info, visit 20/20 Vision Chicago online here.

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