CPS, faith leaders team up to fight violence

August 3, 2009 3:47:19 PM PDT
Chicago Public School officials and religious leaders kicked off a campaign to get students back to school for the start of the new school year. They are also working together to help curb the violence in Chicago that's killed or injured so many young people. At least 45 Chicago students have been killed by violence since last September.

School officials are asking parents and churches to help them keep students safe as another school year approaches.

Top Chicago Public School officials hosted faith community leaders from around the city today as part of their annual back-to-school campaign. They want to make sure kids get back to class on the first day of school and they are asking religious leaders to help them attack youth violence in Chicago.

"We're calling on the faith community to work with us, to partner with us to do more in all our efforts to attack the issue of youth violence in Chicago," said Ron Huberman, Chicago Public Schools CEO.

Top school officials call for help from interfaith leaders in getting students back to school and having parents help with decreasing the violence that is taking over our communities.

"Every one of those kids needs a mentor. Every one of those kids needs a faith-based leader who will take them under their wings and support them and help them build those adult relationships that are going to help carry them through the day," said Huberman.

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"It's critical for CPS to reach out to the churches. We really need to focus on parents' empowerment by teaching parents their role and what they can do because there is a lot of parents who are silent on this issue," said Rev. Tyrone Crider.

The 2009-10 traditional school calendar officially starts Tuesday, September 8. Some 132 schools operating on a year-round calendar begin classes August 10.

"The all year-round school goes a long way toward helping kids stay off the street all summer," said Rev. Marshall Hatch, New Mount Pilgrim Church.

Johnetta Anderson, a recent high school graduate, says young people are killing each other because they have no hope and there are too many negative images around them.

"If you put us in a negative environment and then you show us negative, and then when we listen to the radio and the music all we're hearing is negative. How can you expect positive acts from these kids? I just feel we need to put more positivity on TV, tell these kids about their history, tell these kids what they can be," said Anderson.

Ron Huberman says random shootings that kill students in front of and near schools impact everyone in a school. Crisis situations and their unsettling effects on people's lives must be addressed and that is what CPS is attempting to do by reaching out to faith-based organizations and asking for their help in keeping kids in school and safe.


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