Attorney General, in Chicago, Pledges Youth Violence Effort

Chicago has been in the national and international news lately not only for losing the bid as host city for the 2016 summer Olympics, but for the tragic beating death of high school honor student, Derrion Albert, who was caught between two rival gangs on his way home from school on the city’s southside. Derrion’s murder is sparking a national conversation about youth violence. Many people compare the incident, which has been viewed by millions over YouTube, to Emmett Till’s brutal killing at the hands of white supremacists in 1955, when his open-casket funeral on television sparked the American Civil Rights Movement. Derrion was the third adolescent killed this school year. Since the beginning of 2007, close to 70 students have been murdered mostly on their way to or from school.

As the New York Times article below points out, youth violence isn’t only a Chicago problem; “it’s an American problem,” said Attorney General Eric H. Holder in his meeting yesterday with U.S. Secretary Arne Duncan, the former superintendent of Chicago Public Schools. As an admission counselor (who asked to not be identified) from another local high school on Chicago’s westside neighborhood said, “We’ve always heard of kids fighting kids, but they lived to tell about it. That’s not true anymore.”

Addressing such serious issues like youth violence requires support from many facets of society, including our school system. When former New York Times science journalist and co-founder of the Yale University Child Studies Center (now at the University of Illinois at Chicago) Daniel Goleman first coined the term emotional intelligence, he cited strong emotions as holding the potential for promoting great good in society as well as terrible atrocities, because some people use violence to release feelings of anger or frustration. LifeBound’s People Smarts for Teenagers program works with adolescents on developing self-awareness, as well as managing strong emotions. The principal at Skyway Elementary School in Colorado Springs, Patrick Webster, who used the People Smarts resources last spring told his counselor: “We have had ZERO disciplinary referrals from 6th grade this year, which is phenomenal.” In a typical time frame they would have received half a dozen by now.

As educators we need to cultivate a vision and establish a comprehensive game plan like they have in Colorado Springs for helping school communities curb violence and assess measurable goals. In addition to our resources for students and faculty, LifeBound provides programs for parents on coaching skills and other strategies so that they learn how to model the kinds of attitudes and behaviors they want their children to emulate. Children absorb how parents deal with a job layoff and other traumatic and stressful life events, and supporting parents in their roles is another effective way to stem the escalation of violence among school-aged children and teens.

For a review copy of People Smarts and more information about our programs for parents, please contact us by calling toll free 1.877.737.8510 or emailing, and we’ll be glad to help you. Together we can answer the call to make a profound difference in our school communities.

Attorney General, in Chicago, Pledges Youth Violence Effort
Published: October 7, 2009

CHICAGO — Trying to spark what he called “a sustained national conversation” about youth violence, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. met with public school students and elected officials here Wednesday, pledging a heightened crime-fighting commitment from the federal government toward vulnerable children.

Mr. Holder, joined by Education Secretary Arne Duncan, the former head of the local public schools, said the Obama administration was dedicated to being a full partner in the fight against youth violence, in part, because “too many of today’s victims become tomorrow’s criminals.”

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