- Sputnik International
Get the latest news from around the world, live coverage, off-beat stories, features and analysis.

Back to School in Chicago Comes with Pricey Gang Protection for Kids

© Flickr / WBEZBack to School in Chicago Comes with Pricey Gang Protection for Kids
Back to School in Chicago Comes with Pricey Gang Protection for Kids - Sputnik International
Chicago Public Schools are in a massive financial crisis, but one place the budget has not been cut is in safety patrols to make sure children can get to and from school safely in areas that are plagued by gang violence.

Chicago has been making big headlines for both its teacher layoffs and the city’s rising murder rate.  More than 1,500 shooting incidents have already rocked the city this year.

Chicago Police Ford - Sputnik International
Chicago Police Shoots 14-Year-Old After Allegedly Refusing to Drop Gun

For the last six years, the Safe Passage program has helped to keep kids safe during their commutes.  It began in 35 city schools, but as 50 Chicago public schools were shut down in 2013, more and more schools were added as students were forced to go to schools farther away.

By 2014, there were already 133 schools in the city participating in the program, and this year seven more were added.

The safety officers wear bright vests and escort the children along their routes.

"It's good to see the vests out here, it makes the kids feel more comfortable going to school," Quierra Hardy, a mother of two students, told Reuters. "As far as gangs, it might make them think twice when they see so many witnesses out here."

While the effectiveness of the $17.8 million program remains unclear, Jadine Chou, chief security officer for Chicago Public Schools, told Reuters that there has not been a single incident with a child being hurt on an operational Safe Passage route.

In addition, an analysis by DNAInfo found that crime along the routes did in fact drop along the 64 routes they observed during the last school year.

Chicago skyline as seen from the top of the original Sears Tower. Homan Square. Chicago, IL - Sputnik International
Chicago’s Cash-Strapped School System Fires Nearly 1,500 Teachers, Staff
“The analysis found that crime along those routes between 6 AM to 6 PM on school days dropped 26 percent between the 2012-13 school year and 2014-2015, a number confirmed by the Chicago Police Department's own analysis.”

Not all parents are happy about the initiative, however.

"I appreciate the program, but we can't afford it. I would prefer to pay teachers and classroom assistants rather than people who can just stand guard," Jeanette Taylor-Ramann, president of the school council at Mollison Elementary, told Reuters.

It seems that when it comes to safety versus more teachers, safety of the children has won.

To participate in the discussion
log in or register
Заголовок открываемого материала