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

neighborhood apart.

Experts say research shows the poorest communities are also the

deadliest.

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

cause.

"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

Public Schools.

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.