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Holder, Duncan in Chicago combating youth violence: Background information


Below, from Justice and Education Departments...



U.S. Department of Justice to Release Study on Children's Exposure to Violence;

U.S. Department of Education to Provide $500,000 Grant to Help Fenger Community

Attorney General Eric Holder and Education Secretary Arne Duncan today joined with Chicago city officials to call for a national conversation on values to address youth violence in the wake of the fatal beating of a Chicago high school student. The announcement followed meetings with City officials, community leaders, students, and parents.

"Youth violence isn't a Chicago problem, any more than it is a black problem or a white problem. It's something that affects communities big and small, and people of all races and colors. Today is the beginning of what will be a sustained, national effort on behalf of this entire administration to address youth violence and to make our streets safe for everyone," Holder said.

"Chicago will not be defined by this incident but rather by our response to it - so we came here today to join with you and with communities all across America - to call for a national conversation on values. It's a conversation that must happen every place in America where violence, intolerance, and discrimination exists," Duncan said.

Today's meeting continues President Obama's and the Administration's strong commitment to combating violence:

o In August, the Attorney General joined mayors from across the nation at a White House Gang Violence Prevention and Crime Control Conference.
o The Recovery Act provided $4 billion for state and local law enforcement assistance, crime prevention, victims of crime, and funding to address violence against women. Through the Recovery Act, the City of Chicago received over $13 million in funding from the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) to hire 50 officers to help combat crime and violence.
o The President's budget includes a request of $298 million in additional funding for hiring additional police officers to help meet the Administration's commitment to hire 50,000 officers nationwide.
o The Administration requested $114 million within the Department of Justice to fund programs designed to reduce criminal recidivism and help end the revolving door from corrections to reoffending, as well as $115 million in reentry-related programs funded within the Department of Labor.
o The President's budget requested $25 million to support successful community-based partnerships designed to end violent youth crime - partnerships like the successful model implemented by Operation Ceasefire in Chicago.

The Department of Justice will today release a study on children's exposure to violence. Among other findings, the study shows that more than 60 percent of the children surveyed were exposed to violence in the past year, either directly or indirectly. Nearly half of children and adolescents were assaulted at least once, and more than one in 10 were injured as a result. Nearly one-quarter were the victims of robbery, vandalism or theft, and one in 16 were victimized sexually. The study can be found at after 2 p.m. ET.

"These numbers are astonishing, and they are unacceptable. We simply cannot stand for an epidemic of violence that robs our youth of their childhood and perpetuates a cycle in which today's victims become tomorrow's criminals," Holder said.

Duncan announced that the Department of Education is working with Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to award a $500,000 grant to help Fenger High School and the elementary and middle schools that feed into Fenger HS, restoring learning environments following the death of 16-year-old Derrion Albert. His fatal beating, outside a Roseland community center several blocks from the high school, was captured on a cell phone video. Funds for this grant are coming from a grant program entitled Project SERV - School Emergency Response to Violence. This program is designed to help restore the learning environment in school districts that have been impacted by a significant traumatic event. SERV grants also were provided to school districts in New Jersey, Massachusetts, and New York in 2009.

Duncan emphasized, however, "This is not about the money. Money alone will never solve this problem. It's about our values. It's about who we are as a society. And it's about taking responsibility for our young people to teach them what they need to know to live side-by-side and deal with their differences without anger or violence."

The grant from the Department of Education will enable CPS to facilitate safe passage for students to and from school, offer training to enable teachers to better manage their classrooms and engage students in learning, and it can be used to collaborate with community organizations to expand and increase student-centered support programs. The grant also can be used to strengthen the school support network with crisis response training for teachers, and to provide additional, extensive mental health services to students and the school community.



I've been following this story for the past two weeks and I'd like to commend the Sun Times for its coverage. No one else has even come close to providing enough information for people to make sense of all this.

On the other hand, when I hear Arne Duncan say "This is not about the money" I want to scream. Of course it's about the money! It's about the money Chicago wants the feds to give them (no strings attached) especially now that Mayor Daley isn't going to get to host the 2016 Olympics.

It's all about money. Like the $30 million that Huberman is spending to scientifically prevent 1200 at-risk students from being hurt or (more to the point) hurting others.

Really, I know the Fed can print as much of the stuff as they like (and they do) but is that really the best use of our taxpayer money? I want to end the violence too, but what are our PRIORITIES here?

So, the powers that be want to "start a national conversation." To do what? Have more conversations about the conversations that have been had in the past? And who exactly is going to oversee these funds for the programs? More politicians that can't even see the forest for the trees because of their political connections and greed that they can't seem to control, and want to talk about what they're going to do with the money when they have no control over themselves? Let me put something out here. Today, my daughter, who is the first child in our family to receive a Master's degree, asked her daughter, my granddaughter, who is 10 years old and wishes to become an attorney, how would she feel about learning how to ride the public bus until she's old enough to go alone? My daughter thought back on her youth, and fondly remembered me showing her and her brother how to get back and forth on the bus. My granddaughter told her mother a resounding no. Why? BECAUSE SHE SAID SHE'S AFRAID THAT SHE MIGHT GET SHOT! Email decorum states that if you use capital letters, it's like a form of screaming or shouting. WELL DID YOU HEAR WHAT I JUST SAID? I have a day job, and now I'm going to have another day job, and any Employer (tax paying parents) can be free to join me, which is to babysit our elected employees. My first advice to our elected employees is to set up a website which is going to consist of their employers (we, the Taxpayers) to carefully watch these new, financial developments so as to have a full account on a monthly basis of what, when and where these funds go and how they're being used. Don't even try to convince me that there is no funding for that, because if you can raise the kind of money to have an international party for all the world to see, this should be a drop in the bucket. Nowadays, it don't take much to set up a website. It doesn't have to look pretty, just the facts will do fine. My second advice to our public employees is find out who the "grownups" are (not adults) of these "things" that are not human to become accountable for their and their spawns' irresponsibilities. Try adding that into the budget. Personally, I'm all for giving our real "Officer Friendlies" the manpower and the financial wherewithal to do so. Open up an arrest record when you arrest these "things" that are not human and check their backgrounds and see that it's not the first, second, third, forth or even fifth time they had to be taken off the streets by our police force, only to be released back out there by our judicial system, who can't seem to get it in their thick robes that these particular "others" should no longer have the rights of those children and their parents to try to become useful, constructive, successful human beings, that gives a damn about what goes on in their communities. I truly believe any parent that is concerned for the safety of their child(ren) will be comfortable with that, especially when they know what their children are up to. I'd spend every penny I could get my hands on to make sure my granddaughter didn't have to be afraid to go anywhere she wants. Do I sound angry? Of course I do, because I am. I am sick and tired of being sick and tired of you talking loud and doing nothing. As a matter of fact, every parent should be angry instead of afraid. Every angry parent that get up every morning to get their children up every morning to go to a place where the last thing the angry parent has to worry about is if they will be the next one to receive word that their child, who is also doing something with their life - is dead. Their child, who is being eliminated by some "thing" who should be emulating them instead of killing them. Every angry parent should stay angry at our public employees so much so as to keep them in the hot seat until they learn how to use it to make sure that what plan goes into action will be one that can assure every single child that they have a civil right to a proper and successful education without the fear of losing their life. Now, I know there's a lot of holes to fill with my little advice, BUT AT LEAST WHAT I WANT FROM YOU STARTS WITH THIS. And please do contact me. I personally want to get a chance to meet all of you, for you see, my son was almost a Derrion Albert, and all of the rest of those angels that were murdered. Only by the grace of God, a praying grandmother and a mother who's faith was put to the test, he survived. I was put on the edge of my life because my son, while a high school student, who by the way was voted most talented by his peers, was a victim of a random shooting in one of his legs and in his head. Next month, God willing, my son will live to see his 30th birthday. If you see him, you would never think he was injured. He's alive and thriving. So you see, employees, this is a very, very personal thing with me. I don't know what it's like to lose a child, but I came very close to knowing, and the feeling that I had then I find that there's no consolation to those who had to bury their child. And I'll be damned if my granddaughter or any other son or daughter be afraid of anything because their only reason is to just want to be happy and have fun, as is the right of every child to feel so.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on October 7, 2009 12:50 PM.

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