Poverty, Education, Employment And Families
In cities across the country as well as rural towns, neighborhoods
have fallen on hard times, businesses have left, and residents have
sunken into poverty.
The Englewood neighborhood is one such area. The neighborhood was once a
rail hub with manufacturing, and street after street of thriving
businesses. But that changed many years ago, and police say where this
poverty and unemployment, there is also violence.
The Little Village neighborhood on the Near Southwest Side also
suffers from extreme poverty.
"So many times, we have to choose between eating or paying a doctor's
visit, and many times we have to suffer with certain illnesses instead
of paying the doctor," said Felipe Cabran.
Cabran is convinced the poverty that overshadows Little Village is
connected to another problem -- the violence that is ripping the
Experts say research shows the poorest communities are also the
U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) said job opportunities were vital
to combat poverty.
"Why do we start putting an emphasis on summer jobs -- which is like a
month or two of jobs -- when we need on the South Side of Chicago full
time, career jobs and career opportunities on the South Side of
Chicago?" Jackson said. "I represent some communities where there are 60
people for every one job."
The need for strong family structures was also pinpointed as vital to
preventing violence before it starts. As the father of a 4 1/2 month old
daughter, Tyrone Forman worries about violence. As a professor of
sociology at the University of Illinois at Chicago, he knows a major
"When the family structure falls apart, I think what happens
oftentimes is that something seeps in to fill that gap," Forman said.
"People find peer networks are in any way gang-related, you worry
about the kids being socialized into the behavior which leads to the
kind of gun violence that we're seeing today."
But when the family breaks down, many community centers step up to
provide a home away from home, and many say more of them are needed in
the communities that struggle most.
A need for strong education is also often highlighted. The Chicago
Tribune reported a 44 percent high school dropout rate among Chicago
CPS President Rufus Williams said the dropout rate was unacceptable.
"We need to first focus on education. The truth is the instances that
we're talking about are young people on young people, and it's getting
younger and younger every year. We know that our short-term and
long-term solution is education. " Williams said.
Furthermore, Williams said, schools are safe for youngsters.
"We know that our schools are safe. When you look at the statistics of
what's happening with children, it does not happen during the time in
which they're in school. What we need is an opportunity to have them in
school for longer," Williams said.