American Morning

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December 16th, 2009
07:00 AM ET

Walk in My Shoes: Surviving the walk to school

Editor's Note: This week, American Morning is examining the causes of youth-on-youth violence across the country. Yesterday, in part two of the series, "Walk in My Shoes," we talked with a group of teenagers about why they fight. Tomorrow, we examine the teenage brain to look for an explanation for some of their behavior.

By T.J. Holmes, CNN

It's not yet 7 a.m. and 17-year-old Eric Nimely is already facing his first test of the day – getting safely to school on Chicago's South Side.

Millions of American parents don't think twice about getting their kids to and from school each day, with expectations of a safe carpool, bus ride or short walk.

But for more than 400,000 public school students in Chicago a trip to and from school could become a matter of life and death. We took that trip with two students, and talked with them about how they deal with the constant threat of violence and the effect it has on their lives.

“Everybody gets on the bus and sometimes coming home they’re fighting, you know stuff like that on the bus,” says Eric, who switched his route to school for a safer trip.

To walk in Eric's shoes, is to get a glimpse into a world where getting to school is all about survival.

“If you don't have any friends … I'm not saying you’re going to get picked on, but it's like a group of guys standing on the corner and you're walking. If nobody knows who you are, I mean like they're going to try and say something to you,” Eric says.

Like 95% of the city's public school students, Eric is responsible for getting to school on his own. He says he tries to travel with friends, to avoid trouble.

“We definitely want to try to protect them from violence,” says Charles Anderson, assistant principal at Eric's Team Englewood High School. Anderson says it's not uncommon for kids to get jumped, robbed or worse in the tough neighborhoods of Chicago, where during the last school year, 49 public school students were killed.

Principal Peggy Korellis-Byrd says it's hard for her teachers to break through that tough exterior kids have to keep up.

“It's very hard to sort of drop that wall and maybe not be so tough or on-guard in school. So we have to break down a lot of that.”

But as difficult as mornings can be, students say the afternoon journey home is even worse.

It's six o'clock at night when 16-year-old Amber Ward heads home from Manley High School on Chicago's west side.

“And I be scared ‘cause I ignore people. When they try to talk to me I just keep walking. And that makes people so mad these days. People will do anything. I'll be feeling like they're going to pull out a gun and shoot me from the back. So when I keep walking I always do like this, you know, keep looking back,” says Amber.

For Amber, it's a three and a half block walk to the bus stop where we wait 15 minutes.

“I like to sit in the back so I can see everything ahead of me,” she tells me.

And along with sitting in the back of the bus, so she can spot danger better, once off the bus, she tries to keep an eye out for who might be hiding in the dark on side streets she passes.

“I'm so used to seeing it. I mean I'm used to guys standing on the corner.”

Along the way Amber points out a drug house.

“It's abandoned, so a lot of people just be out there selling drugs, playing dice and doing what they do.”

And Amber's final rule of the road: walk fast.

“If I had been by myself I guarantee you I would have been at Jackson. I guarantee you.

It's only when Amber catches sight of her house, 45-minutes after she left school, she knows she's back in safe territory.

“I made it,” she says.

Filed under: Crime • Walk in My Shoes
soundoff (53 Responses)
  1. Darren

    What's really sad is the fact that my tax dollars pay for a service called OPERATION SAFE PASSAGE which these two ignorant students can get for free. They are entitled to a FREE ride to and from school via police escort. CNN neglects to inform the viewer of this because violence sells and gets you, the ignorant viewer, to watch. Don't believe me? Operation Safe Passage can be found in CNN's very own search engine. BAN CNN!!!

    December 17, 2009 at 10:40 am |
  2. Eleanor

    Gloria hit the nail with the hammer, you say it girl. All u have to do is help, parents, children, the community will follow. Believe me, within a half of a year I feel safer because I got involved with other parent. It works. Now I do not feel the poverty, or depression for my situation, I feel hope, and try to give it back. I give what I can give, and it might be small to others, but it makes a big difference.

    December 17, 2009 at 9:23 am |
  3. ronvan

    Definitely a sad situation for our young people. I must admit that there are several simple solutions that come to mind but seems to be missing.
    POLICE PRESENCE! NEIGHBORHOOD INVOLVEMENT! There is NO excuse for police to not be all over these problems! They know, or should know, where the problems are within their cities and could "beef up" those area's, especially during school hours. How many "off duty" officers work extra hours, getting paid, to protect business's, schools, etc.? Then there are the people living in these area's. A CONCERTED effort to patrol their own can make a big difference! For everyone to turn their heads and not take some kind of action to protect our & their children is inexcusable and a total failure for our children to expect & DEMAND help from our parents & those that are suppossed to protect us.

    December 17, 2009 at 9:18 am |
  4. Eleanor

    to bpin- I am a black person who does not support the one or no parent family. I also know many others just like me. This has nothing to do with culture. It has more to do with the have and have nots. I am not complaining though I actually get involved, like many black parents, and others single parents alike. We all want the same thing and it is people who are lending a hand that actually can make a difference in the neighborhood, but with an attitude like yours is why we fail before we even try at times .It is sad that many others think like you without fully being aware of a persons true situation or even giving a thought to help the situation. How many times have you thought about tutoring a black or hispanic child. Or helping a our youth understand how to express themselves, or give them an outlet. Do you reach out.
    Me and my husband had good jobs, raising our kids in a good neighborhood, and that all changed. So we downsized, and moved somewhere I was scared to move. But you know, I have become more about my community than ever now, and working for a better situation. And the families around us are also starting to help and get involved. It only takes one person to show people the way. It starts with us. Lets get out of the suburbs, get back to reality, and gotdo some work with the less fortunate children, or u can sit in your nice neighborhood, with good school, and act like u should have a say, when you do nothing to help. And guess what those savages are already here, so what to do now, continue to tell them that no one cares. I am a christian, and the first and most important commandment is love, for God, and thy neighbor. It starts with you.

    December 17, 2009 at 9:07 am |
  5. Jack Pangle jr

    It is simply amazing to me that we can spend billions of tax payers dollars, deploy our troops around the world to ensure the safety for others, when we could use our tax dollars and our troops at home to ensure the safety of our own people. Our citizens should be able to walk safely anywhere, but our kids should be able to go to and from school with joy and peace, not fear and dispair. Wake up America, lets use our troops and our tax dollars to free our childern from fear at home, then we can help others.


    December 17, 2009 at 8:22 am |
  6. gloria lewis

    We need quit focusing on saving the kids and lets get more involvement in the parents lives and lets give them the tools and resources they need to help their own kids .It is like a tree that keeps sprouting branches ,we break of the branches as they get sick ,it does the fix the root .We need to get to the root of these problems .It is an impossible task raising teenage kids add poverty ,no dad ,drug or alcohol abuse in the home ,domistic abuse in the home and you get a ticking time bomb .
    I am not blaming this on anyone i am just saying it can be fix we can do better .Kids did not ask to be born it is the parents responsibility to keep them safe .We as parents need to put our kids welfare above our own .I would never forget when i was growing up we did not have much to eat my mom made sure my dad eat first ,then she fed us if it was not enough she would do without or she would wait and if any of us had left overs she would eat then .We were always put first even after we were grown up 20 plus we always knews my parents had our back .I feel so bad for these kids .
    I am thinking about volunteering at an org that helps kids but i am not sure i can handel doing it .For one reason i will want to save all these kids i will want to fix all they problems and i know i will not be able to .I do believe that what ids need more than anything in life is love understanding and a sence of secutity by their parents .I believe even with poverty if parents can find a way to balance this and talk to the kids and make them understand that they are loved and that they will always be there they can save these kids .
    People live in poverty greater than what we have in the usa and do not do these things .I live in poverty where i eat food even after the rats crawl over it ,roaches were all over our food .Slept on the floor even at 16 ,slept in a bed with 3 other sisters and brothers ,had to in the backyard to use the bathroom which was a pit with roaches crawling out of the pit .Having to put a peice of cardboard in my school shoes then put plastic on the cardboard to prevent my feet from getting wet because they were holes in the shoes .I can tell people about poverty we cook on a wood fire in the backyard .Poverty i live it but my mom and dad and every parent was very strict ,so we still turn out pretty good and stayed out of trouble .Just like these kids i had to run home at night and walk very fast ,i grew up in a drug infested neighbourhoods ,to this day cabs refuse to pass through my neighbour hood on the islands ,but you can beat this .I never mess with drugs yet they was drugs all around me ,there was crime drugs you name it but i never got mixed up with it .Kids stay stong and focus just say hi to the bad people ,you do not have to agree with what they do but dont show them you are scared .Hi how you doing to these gang although you know they are bad can go a long way .You cant beat them so stay neutral you dont have to be one of them but if you stay neutral you will be safe on the streets .They will know who you are and will not bother you .Trust me i know i lived it

    December 17, 2009 at 8:06 am |
  7. Eleanor

    With the government in more debt than ever, the school system is going to hurt in providing more of anything to our children. Especially those of us who have children in public school.. I am a parent of two grade school children. I know that my school does all it can just to even provide breakfast and lunch to the children. This is going to take more than the school system to prevent violence outside the school. It is going to take willing people to provide their time how ever they can. Not just fighting to gain more funds but doing something about the situation as it stands now. It begins with us as parents to do all we can to provide time and to reach out to other parents and children. It has to be a combined effort on the part of the parents and the system. I refuse to put my children on a bus because I find that there is the same violence on the bus. I walk and or drive my children depending on the weather. I also try grouping the neighborhood children together on their walk, that helps. All I am saying is parents need to reach out, those that can provide the time, and we have to provide our teens with the resources they need to stay safe. When I was a teen all we could do was band the neighborhood teens together to help ourselves stay safe, and our parents made an effort to get to know one another. It helped keep us safe, and our neighborhood.

    December 17, 2009 at 6:58 am |
  8. Eric

    Savage! Apparently that lady was born with a silver spoon in her mouth. Everyone has their opinion, but only god can judge. If we all could be perfect, it would be no world.

    December 17, 2009 at 6:42 am |
  9. Frank

    This happens more and more because the just, decent kids/teens are told not to fight back, and are not taught to defend themselves from the vermin on two legs. As a result they are meat on the table whenever they venture out. Indeed, in most cases it seems that they are punished harshly for defending themselves, while the vermin get a catch-and-release policy.

    It was not always so, indeed, in times not so far in the past, the good kids were able to handle themsevles in the rough-and-tumble far better than the vermin, as they actually have the self-discipline to approach the matter systematically.

    December 17, 2009 at 5:58 am |
  10. Charles Ellis

    I am a author and poet from Baltimore City and I moved to Chicago in January. Since being here I have spoken in Alternative schools and what we as a community call misguided out of control youths I have come to find them to be misunderstood interlectuals. I just held a Poetry Slam for the Westside High Schools where Lofton & Lofton McDonald's sponsored me by giving five finalist employment in each of their five westside locations. The most inspirational part of it was when on young man who represented an alternative High School called me and stated how just being able to be in front of people and to finally express himself has changed his life in just one moment. If we don't try to reach our children then how can they reach us.

    December 16, 2009 at 10:36 pm |
  11. stacey

    If it's that bad, AND it's known by the school system that it's that bad, then WHY can't the buses go to the childrens houses/apartments to pick them up? It's something that I just can't comprehend. Doesn't sound like the school system is doing a great job concerning the safety of the kids!. Why not redirect & make the bus routes to where these kids don't have to be in harms way?

    @ Kelly -– Just b/c they walk to & from school daily & have to go thru this type of situation, doesn't mean that their parents aren't doing their job.

    December 16, 2009 at 8:41 pm |
  12. bpin

    Children that are reared in savage conditions become.....savages. It all starts in the home. Blame it on the schools, blame it on poverty, blame it on Chicago's leaders, blame it on Bush. Blame until there is no one else to blame. Only point the finger at one source, the parents. If you cannot rear children in a safe environment, don't have children. At this point, a cultural problem has been created that will not be solved for decades or maybe even centuries. You just don't cure insensitivity to human life quickly. That insensitivity exists in both the killing of human beings as well as the birth of human beings that cannot be supported or given a chance to survive. The black culture fully supports the one or no parent family. It is a rule. One parent simply cannot rear children with the economics and support that are needed today. It will not change. Tell it like it is.

    December 16, 2009 at 8:23 pm |
  13. Doris

    I just finished a seminary course that focused on Ministering to Children At Risk around the world. Little attention was paid to ministering at risk American children during the course. Your piece showed the world that African American girl children are at as much risk to senseless violence as our male children – (Witness the young woman in your story who found herself trying to fight 15 girls who decided to spare her life that day or the girl who packs her school bags with boxcutters and mace). Our male and female children are suffering from senseless violence, sexual assault, poor education, poorer economics, poor parenting and little support from schools, police or the Church. The idea of children having to walk on certain sides of the streets on certain days to strategize their walk to school saddens me deeply. Yes, children should know right from wrong but with the break-down of Black families, the ineffectiveness of our schools and churcnes and the fear that we've developed of our own children can lead our children nowhere but to destination disaster. Don't blame the Children America, Blame Us!

    Thank you T.J. for using the power of CNN to incite some of us "educated" African Americans like me who somehow escaped the 'hood to do something for our young. Its way past time for us to take action on their behalf. It is up to us to protect them, to respect them, to mentor them, and to use our money, talents and gifts to try to nurture and re-direct our young. The idea of Black seminarians going off to distant lands to help save the children is almost laughable given the state of our own.

    December 16, 2009 at 7:27 pm |
  14. Kenny

    This is just very dangerous. People can get kidnapped,raped,stolen from and even worse killed.Us teenagers need to be carefull and have an eye out for dangerous things.You never know whats happeneing at any time so better watch out cause if you don't you're putting your life at risk.

    December 16, 2009 at 7:09 pm |
  15. Don Wall

    Thomas Payne it is people like you who make the rest of us have to work so hard to get cooperation in our world. I am rarely disgusted by things people say. You stand out. If you dont think that white kids cause none of this mess, you are lost somewhere that seems unlikely to connect you to the internet. There are a whole lot of reasons this scenario is common EVERYWHERE in our country, but dark skin is not one of them. Ignorance is, so would like to acknowledge you publicly for your contribution.

    December 16, 2009 at 7:08 pm |
  16. kathleen

    Now that we know, what are we going to do about it?

    December 16, 2009 at 7:07 pm |
  17. Gene

    What happened with Ari Duncan's turn-over program (that's when they fire every experienced teacher, who is 50 or above, and hire kids right after college and no teaching experience)? It does not seem that that program made Chicago's schools any better or safer.

    December 16, 2009 at 6:33 pm |
  18. Andrew

    Why can't a kid walk to and from school safely in a country that is supposed to be the land of the free and opportunity? What's what with our society? The governments of this world are truly failing our children.

    December 16, 2009 at 6:27 pm |
  19. Jim Hunt

    I'm a school administrator. Every "real" educator understands that if students are going to learn, certain things must be present in their lives, like safety and a sense of well being. If I have to worry about surviving my trip to and from school, my mind in not going to be on my academic studies. Students around the country face these and similar situations daily. These same students are still expected to excel in their classes and pass the mandated state and national examinations. Arne Duncan – are you paying attention!

    December 16, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  20. Kimberly

    I agree with Kelly: Who is our children's keeper? What an awful shame that a young man or woman is in such constant fear! Shame on Detroit or any city that tolerates this! Wake up America! The young man took the subway-alone and then an El train so he could AVOID any confrontation with thugs! Young women facing the same dangers at 6PM? I can not imagine the fear they must feel. With all our powerful MILLIONAIRES IN the WHITE HOUSE!!! How about at bill that would make the punishment fit The crime? Send a message that America won't tolerate harming any child!!!! A healthcare bill will be in place in less than one year! BUT OUR CHILDREN ARE NOT AS IMPORTANT – ONLY IN AMERICA.

    49 children were murdered in that city last year? OMGoodness!!!!! tHAT IS SOOOOOOOOOOOO SHAMEFUL..WHERE ARE your $$$high Rollers? – trying to convey to the stupid public that we must now bailout the Insurance Companies – why u ask...look at the disasters lately. Tax-payers need a TRILLION $ break! tHINK..HIRE MORE POLICE AND PASS A BILL THAT sends a Message!! It would stimulate the economy, drop the unemployment rate and our "good ole boys" could get a pack on the back!! Mayb next year one of these do-gooders could win the Nobel Peace Prize...If u can't due Oprah!! she seems to look peeps in the eye and "fight" for what is right.

    December 16, 2009 at 6:02 pm |
  21. Evan from Chicago

    This can be stopped by supporting police efforts. Listening to teachers. SNITCHING on drug dealers. In the video the young lady pointed out a drug house, why didn't she notify her teachers or police?We are failing these children and at times, they fail theirselves.

    December 16, 2009 at 5:47 pm |
  22. Tony from Ventura County Ca

    I think Cheri Johnson from Minneapolis is absolutely right. Parents need to get control of this situation. Our popular culture has grown toxic too. Even better neighborhoods have some teen age problems. Just look at the advertisements for video games and the types of T.V. programming we have. What has to happen before we all wake up?

    December 16, 2009 at 5:29 pm |
  23. walter

    I find it very disturbing how these children have to exist. I grew up in Chicago, not far from Englewood HS. I remember it was hard to get home because of the gangs, but our weapon of choice was our fists. We didn't have money to purchase guns. Also the introduction of drugs in these inner cities gave kids options to make money other than going to the corner store and McDonalds. Parents, who remember their parents strongly correcting them in manners which could be termed as borderline abuse by the authorities of today, became soft, disconnected. We felt we will never do our children like when we were a kids. As much as it may seem wrong, we have to reel these kids in – the way we were corrected. We have to reconnect to our communities and take responsibility for the actions of our children

    December 16, 2009 at 5:29 pm |
  24. rocky

    This is a disgrace.

    I am a high school student in NY and this is something that needs to be addressed. These idlers must be taken off the street and placed in jail or school. The new face of Public Schools has changed and nto for the better.

    Heck I think it's best we stay at home and learn through YouTube!

    December 16, 2009 at 5:22 pm |
  25. Daniel

    Nothing is going to change – violence is glorified, money is king. Parents don't take personal responsibility and that trait is passed on to their gun toting brood.

    We have a generation of people who were poorly parented and given bad coping skills that are raising children to be even worse than them.

    Instead of just looking at the kids... I dare you to look at their parents.

    December 16, 2009 at 4:46 pm |
  26. Repa

    RApe Cases were still rampant!

    December 16, 2009 at 4:42 pm |
  27. Matt

    Are you sure Amber Ward was on her way home from school???...
    Saying things like "I be scared" makes me think she might as well be just staying at home. Why risk getting killed or raped when she isn't even learning anything at school in the first place!

    Maybe if we provide better education to our kids, we wouldn't have the high crime rates in the first place... Just a thought.

    December 16, 2009 at 3:58 pm |
  28. kdh

    I haven't walked to school much but when I do I'm very scared because I'm afraid something will happen. I just started driving to school and I feel a lot better. One of my friends got kidnapped and it took three days to find her. She walked to school herself and now I drive her to school. The way she walked to school was she had to go by two drug houses and the day she walked to school she one of the guys that was in the house came out because he thought she was going to buy some weed off of her and he kept yelling where is your money and she keppt saying i dont have money the guy who came outside was the one who who kidnapped her. they do need to change how teens are scared to walk the streets just to get to and from school and how teens want to start fights with others and how adults kidnap teens. If they don't it WILL get worse.

    December 16, 2009 at 3:50 pm |
  29. Deborah

    When my daughter was in school, I was concerned about her going from our apartment to the bus stop. We did not live in the best or the worst area, but it seems like kids these days have to worry about so much more than grades. And it is just not the worry about adults accosting our kids, but it is the kid on kid violence that is a concern. Why is it so hard for people to just live and let live nowadays?

    December 16, 2009 at 3:43 pm |
  30. Susan

    Who are these people? Where are these communities? Whose children are they?

    The youth of inner city communities are often minorities and often "disconnected". Many African American youth are existing without a history and history is a foundation. There are many youth now at 14, 15, 16, etc. who do not know of the full contribution and life sacrifices of Medgar Evans or Malcolm X, or Martin Luther King. If not for street signs, they may have never heard some of these names. Those who know about them often are not aware of just how recent this history is. Ask them about Jesse Jackson? I am amazed at how many youth have never heard of "Roots". As adults, I do not think we are aware of the tremendous disconnect. And, when coupled with the introduction of a technological society, we completely disconnected ourselves from a generation of children. Parents, instead of teaching youth a historical society, had to learn their new technologically society. Courses in school had to be included into the mandatory curriculum such as Intro to Computers, Computer training, etc. which substituted courses that were on the rise of becoming required such as Black History. So, if the parents are pre-occupied with these new survival options and the schools are redirected in teaching them..... Well... whose instilling those "selective" attributes to the "developing" minds of the young?

    Technology is a GREAT thing and in no way do I minimize its importance to our nation But, I believe that we have failed to look at the full impact this has had on LIFE....especially parenting and community awareness. Media has parented many of these children during hours when the Star Spangle Banner allowed everyone to sleep at night because television programs ended until the next morning. I believe actions such as these were classified somewhere in a term called "media controls"...which are now substituted with the technological and often ineffective "parental controls".

    Parents have never raised children without external supports. Along with the example of media controls as a support, there were school programs and enforcements, community resources and citizen involvement, all of which had an integral role in the overall supervision of children. With many of these supports either removed or ineffective.... parenting has often now become just the "parents" responsibility.

    And parents are now doing alone what use to take a "village". In order to confront the issues of "No child left behind"...we may need to look at the issues of "No parents left behind". These parents are another generation skipped and now disconnected.


    December 16, 2009 at 3:30 pm |
  31. Carol

    I am from the Chicago suburbs and I think that it is about time that the problems that have been going on on the south side of Chicago are noticed by the rest of the country. These things have been going on for decades in Chicago. It has never been the good side of town, going back to the beginning of Chicago with the stockyards and the train yards. There have been people trying to fix it and it has not worked. That side of town was a place you did NOT want to find yourself in any time of day. It has always been that the south side was the bad side of town. Keep putting it on the broadcast – then maybe something will happen.

    December 16, 2009 at 3:24 pm |
  32. Art

    These children, as a generation, are failing this nation.

    December 16, 2009 at 3:06 pm |
  33. S.O.S.

    Here in Durham we are starting a campaign mostly driven by the young people in our community who want better for themselves if you are interested chek us out at
    Communities need to believe that they can make a difference. Join the capmaign

    December 16, 2009 at 2:51 pm |
  34. mike the teacher

    these kids need to stop being so darn lazy and go to another school, its not just black students either for the person who said that, the chilians are also lazy about thier education imo,

    December 16, 2009 at 2:45 pm |
  35. luvlar

    Suzanne says, we as a nation are failing these children. I don't blame us as a nation. I'll put it to you straight so all you folks can tell me what a jerk I am. It's the black race as a whole that's failing. Everywhere there's black people there's crime and violence. Blacks are ruining our society and their ruining our country. I read stories like this and I just don't care anymore. Blacks will never change. There society is built on crime and violence and there's nothing we'll ever be able to do about it. It's in their blood and their incapable of knowing or understanding anything different. Google black crime statstics and tell me I'm wrong....

    December 16, 2009 at 2:44 pm |
  36. STEPH

    I live in the Caribbean and here the children plan fights in school just for the fun of it. They have zero tolerance. It is just totally crazy in this world. This is what happens when we take prayer out of the schools and homes. We have to realize that we have a creator and that creator left a manual for us to live by and when we don't live by it we will all head down a road of self destruction like what we are seeing happening now in the world.

    December 16, 2009 at 2:35 pm |
  37. Sunrose

    This is unacceptable. If the state has compulsory attendance laws, it is responsible for the safety of the children attending its schools. This is a state interest issue and should be addressed in legislatures and courts immediately.

    If this was what one of my kids was facing, I'd be getting my mail at the capital house – because I'd be parked outside of it with signs all over the place.

    No wonder the drop-out rates are so high – especially among the kids living in these death trap neighborhoods. Why isn't anyone doing anything about this?

    December 16, 2009 at 2:33 pm |
  38. Reality

    LOL at the pity party u all are throwing here, if you feel its so pitiful....then do something about it.

    December 16, 2009 at 2:24 pm |
  39. Wendy

    I see all the "where are the police" "where are the teachers"...well they are exactly where society has demanded they the sidelines.

    This is really sad. It is a horrible situation. Maybe these will show that all the afterschool programs in the world will not fix issues like these. You have to get at the root of the problem...

    What is the root? Well part of it started when it became ok to have both parents working, no more mother to take you to school or be there when you got home. No more parental involvement because our parents are working until 6pm and we have been home for hours before they even get there. It also became ok to have sex before marriage, then it became ok to have a baby as a teenager. When did it all start? It started when our sense of family when away. When we said we could raise a family with just one parent. I know many single parents that "can" do it, but you know...they REALLY do not know where their kids are and what their kids are doing.

    December 16, 2009 at 2:23 pm |
  40. Steve M.

    How to stop it? Simple. Very simple. Here's how:
    1) Legally define gang banging. We all know what it is when we see it.
    2) Then legislate gang banging to be a capital offense. Call it the anti-gangbanging act (AGBA) of 2010.
    3) Then execute all gang bangers and gang banger wannabes.
    4) Under the AGBA, close down all prisons, executing all violent cons and ex-cons convicted of violent crimes in the process. Channel the rest of the (non-violent) prison crowd into rehabilitation or treatment, or where appropriate, jail with hard labor.

    Problem now over, completely. Take the money saved on chronic incarcination of these violent monsters and use it to fund education and prevention programs in the inner cities.

    Get rid of your cockroaches. Don't nurture them. Then use the savings to prevent new roaches from being created. Gang bangers and wannabees should have only three rights in this country:
    1) The right to be identified.
    2) The right to be executed.
    3) The right to have their ashes scattered in the wind.

    And by the way, this would apply to all violent offenders of any skin color, location or motivation. Not just those in the hoods of the south side. It would also apply to child molesters, rapists, and similar types.

    December 16, 2009 at 2:20 pm |
  41. suzanne

    we, as a nation, are failing these children.

    December 16, 2009 at 1:04 pm |
  42. katrina

    I know exactly how they feel, I grew up in D.C. during the 90s and I did the same thing. You have to strategize your route to school. On certain blocks you walk on certain sides of the street, and on certain days you take certain routes. And always travel in groups.

    December 16, 2009 at 12:53 pm |
  43. Tracie

    Wow, this story just broke my heart. It's a shame what are youth have to go through, just for an education

    December 16, 2009 at 12:52 pm |
  44. Bryan from Baltimore

    Like most Americans who will read this story, I am sad to hear how children cannot get to and from school safely in a country that is supposed to be developed. I have to ask, why how come the city does not provide a secure way of transporting these kids. Busses accompanied by security officers or police.
    I hate to feel this way, but sometimes I wonder how the individuals that cause the trouble would feel if they all of a sudden found themselves in the middle east somewhere, where survival isnt just about impressing your friends or gaining respect. How tough would they be then?

    December 16, 2009 at 12:51 pm |
  45. Cheri Johnson/ Minneapolis, MN

    I'm a 40 year old black woman who is just disgusted at the way our young black youth act in this day and age. They act like they don't know the difference between right and wrong. I agree that it starts within the home and the parents, but I feel that we are all born with the chip that let's you know right from wrong and these children clearly know what they are doing to touture other kids who are trying to get a education and just live a normal teenage life. I think teenagers today don't know the difference between fact and fiction. They watch way too much T.V and are playing way too many video games. What they need is a good old fashioned butt whipping with a switch (like my mother did) along with a healthy dose of parental guidance, an abundance of love and a deep knowledge of knowing the choices you make today will effect who and what you become in the long run.

    December 16, 2009 at 12:28 pm |
  46. Kelly

    Well when are the parents in these types of communities not going to take it anymore?? Where are the police? Where are the teachers? Where are the protests? The people in that community built that community just as everywhere else in the world, if they dont like what they built they should change it. I think it really stems from laziness. Poor girl probably has lazy ass good for mothing parents.

    December 16, 2009 at 12:15 pm |
  47. pstimus

    It's so sad that kids (children) have to be afraid to go to SCHOOL! These kids are heros for wanting to get an education and having the courage to leave home every morning. This really saddens me.

    December 16, 2009 at 12:02 pm |
  48. Albert Jacobs

    Hi T.J. I am a senior citizen and i believe that there is nothing wrong with the teen ager's brains. Why don't you look into what has happened over the past 50 or 60- years that got us to the present situation. I know that we senior citizens usually say "The good ole days", that's not what I am saying, but, things were definitely safer back then. I come from The Bronx in NYC and dated a girl from Brooklyn, if you know what that involves? Anyway I never had a problem coming home from a date at 3AM on the subway which took me over two hours. We were able to stroll the streets in the evening with little problems. Sure, there were places you just didn't go late at night, but there were little problems elsewhere. I say investigate the changes over the years to see why we have major problems. We had major poverty then. We also had ethnic neighborhoods but mostly calm reigned throughout the city. What has happened?????

    December 16, 2009 at 11:59 am |
  49. Tesla

    I used to do exactly the same thing she did back in H.S. when I used to live in a neighborhood apartment located in a dark back alley where drug activity wasn't uncommon and the businesses surrounded were mafia owned. In fact, old habits die hard, even if I now work in an urban neigborhood where security is tight and walking alone at night is considered relatively safe. I still can't help myself walking at a faster pace to get to my car after dark. For extra safety measures, carrying around pepper spray or walking with a crowd during the busiest times of the day or evening are habits I still carry around.

    December 16, 2009 at 11:38 am |
  50. Victor

    After seeing the series thus far, I just felt compelled to share the following poem about Derrion's death:

    Nightmare on a South Side Street

    We went from taking
    The Underground Railroad
    To taking
    Our own lives
    With railroad ties.

    We're off track.

    Back in the day,
    Monsters had to forbid us from going to school;
    Now we voluntarily leave
    Like we're scared
    The books have whips.

    Back in the day,
    Monsters had to rip
    Us apart from our families;
    Now we vacate the premises
    As if we still think
    Somebody else has the power
    To own
    Our own seeds.

    Back in the day,
    Monsters used to feed
    Off of forcing us to hear the N-word;
    Now it's like we love
    To tongue-kiss our molesters' leftovers.

    It's revolting
    That we are not revolting.
    If we really want to runaway
    From a state
    Of submission,
    Then perhaps
    We should stop
    The fantasies
    Of those who once owned us.
    Who knows?
    Just might
    Come true.

    December 16, 2009 at 10:58 am |
  51. kalan adams

    im only 15 years old but i still believe that its crazy that you have to watch your back every day and have to worry about not getting killed.I live in Fort Wayne IN, and nothing like that happens but i still fill for all the kids that i have been killes just walking to school and my heart goes out to there family,this generation nedds to change quick and fast because if not alot of stuff is going to go wrong and alot more people are going to get hurt.

    December 16, 2009 at 10:35 am |
  52. Teresa

    Here in KC, a boy was killed a couple of weeks ago coming home from the library with a college application in his pocket. I just can't comprehend how violence takes away the good kids. How in the world can this stop?

    December 16, 2009 at 10:15 am |