Youth violence is a city wide epidemic in Chicago with 58.7% of the 2010 murders defined as gang involved and 49% of victims of homicide being victims 25 years or younger with 9.3% being youth ages 16 or younger.1 Homicide is the second leading cause of youth ages 15-24. Among homicide victims 10-24 years old in 2010, 4,828 youth were victims of homicide, 86% were male and 14% were female. Homicide is the leading cause of death for African Americans in this age group and the second leading cause of death for Hispanics2. Children, youth, and young adults at risk for gang recruitment range from 7 to 35 years of age, but typically are in their teens or early twenties. These youth come from areas that are economically deprived, low income, comprised of high populations of ethnic and racial minorities and working-class urban and suburban environments. Gangs are associated with violent behavior. Studies confirm that youth enter gangs, become more aggressive, and engage in riskier, violent, and often illegal activities.
BUILD's youth are exposed to gangs, guns, drugs and the violence related to gang recruitment and gang warfare. Many students remain truant from school to avoid encountering gangs on their way to or from school. Youth join gangs out of necessity for protection, especially when they have to walk through more than one gang turf on their way to school or in school hallways as they change classes. Increasing school retention for youth reduces the likelihood of gang and criminal involvement and produces significant social and economic benefits to the individual and to society. Few youth are encouraged to look beyond the lifestyles and work patterns of their parents and receive little encouragement to complete high school and pursue college. If one youth leaves a life of violence, crime and gangs and goes on to complete college, s/he has the increased lifetime earning potential of 1.1 million dollars more than a high school dropout3.
BUILD's Impact on the Need
A proven-effective strategy to combat youth violence – both as perpetrators and victims – is implementation of positive out-of-school-time programs in at-risk communities. Out-of-school programs are greatly needed by the youth that BUILD serves. According to Fight Crime: Invest in Students, 3-6 PM are the peak hours for teens to commit crimes, be in or cause car crashes, be victims of crime, and smoke, drink and use drugs. BUILD serves youth during after - and out-of-school time, weekends, and school vacations - the times when they are most at risk. Through our individualized assistance and opportunities for positive group and peer interactions, BUILD provides support services and opportunities greatly needed for at-risk youth to successfully transition through the educational pipeline.
1Chicago Police Department Crime Summary; Research & Development Division.
3U.S. Census Bureau 2000