Mayor Richard M. Daley today proposed moving Chicago’s curfew for people under 17, 30 minutes earlier and said he will convene a teen violence summit next month to try and devise strategies to reduce the amount of violence committed against young people.
At a news conference held at Hirsch Metropolitan High School, 7740 S. Ingleside Av., the mayor also shared the results of the nationwide Teen Gun Survey conducted in 2007 for the Uhlich Children’s Advantage Network (UCAN), a multi-service agency for at-risk children and families in Chicago.
The survey showed, for example, that on average, one in three teens said that they have known someone who has been shot. And that 40 per cent of females and 40 per cent of Hispanic teens said they are fearful of being shot. The number for African-American young people is 59 per cent.
"I think the results put this issue of teen violence in clear focus for us and that every person in Chicago should find them disturbing. This should be a wake up call for all of us," Daley said.
The Mayor pointed out that although the number of violent crimes and homicides fell last year in Chicago, the city's children were too often the victims of violence.
"Children caught in gang war crossfire. Children sitting in their homes. Children killed while innocently riding the bus. They were the victims of gun and gang violence and their young lives were cut short senselessly,"
Daley said. "But as a result of the violence against our children, people came together all across our city and spoke out in anger. We came together around a clear and positive commitment – that as a city we must help every child achieve his or her potential and promise in life and we must keep every child safe," he said.
In proposing to change the curfew from the current 10:30 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 11:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday to 10 p.m. and 11 p.m., respectively, Daley said the city’s young people need the ongoing protection of the city's curfew.
"I know many people may not appreciate our curfew -- especially the gang bangers, the drug dealers and the thugs who use our children as shields for their illegal operations.
But, I believe it's time for us to extend it. "My reason is simple. If we can take even one child out of harms way by taking this step, it will be worth it. When children are off the streets, they’re safer from violence," the Mayor said.
Daley said the record shows the curfew works. From 2005, the year that the curfew law was strengthened, to 2006, there were 398 fewer young persons under the curfew age who were victims of crime.
"By taking this step, we're not trying to inconvenience parents and caregivers. We're not trying to make life more unfair for our responsible children. We're trying to protect our children," he said.
"We must work together in the neighborhoods, churches and schools to denounce this violence and develop new solutions to end it," Daley said.
The Teen Violence Summit, to be held in February, will be put on by the Chicago Police Department's CAPS program and the City's Department of Children and Youth Services, with the help of Clear Channel Communications.
"The summit is one important component of a new initiative which, over the next few months, will spread a citywide anti-violence message created by young people themselves and provide young people with a meaningful forum where they can voice their opinions and concerns about violence," Daley said.
We will ask Chicago's young people to express the anti-violence message in song, art, video and film. All the entries will be on display at a Teen Expo planned for May, and the winning entries will serve as the centerpiece for anti-violence efforts this summer, he said.
"We will pull together teenagers from around the city and ask them to help us understand what we can do better and differently as a society and a city to support them and protect them from violence," Daley said.
In addition, the City and Chicago Public Schools will play an active role in a January 24 meeting of leaders of the business community sponsored by the Joyce Foundation to address the challenge of violence against youth.
"As a City, we have a responsibility to do all we can to protect our children and give each and every one of them a better chance for a good life. That's what the steps we are announcing today are about," he said.