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Youth Violence: A National Conversation

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The heavy hitters came out to Chicago today to address the recent murder of 16-year-old honor student Derrion Albert that was caught on cell phone video and broadcast for all the world to see. Attorney General Eric Holder and Education Secretary Arne Duncan joined Chicago's Mayor Daley and spoke with community leaders, parents, school officials and students from Fenger High School, about what the federal government plans to do regarding youth violence pervading our educational institutions.

"Youth violence isn't a Chicago problem, any more than it is a Black problem or a White problem. It's something that affects communities big and small, and people of all races and colors. Today is the beginning of what will be a sustained, national effort on behalf of this entire administration to address youth violence and to make our streets safe for everyone," said Holder.

Duncan, who was head of Chicago Public Schools for seven years prior to becoming education secretary, made mention that he and the attorney general had prior conversations with the President and the First Lady about this incident. He seemed to take the situation personally, adding that while this is his hometown, this conversation must be had every place in America where violence and discrimination still exists. He made mention of recent incidents in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Philadelphia, Seattle, Miami, New Orleans, and many other communities that have had young people's lives lost to youth violence.

The federal solution to the problem includes providing $4 billion worth of Recovery Act money for state and local law enforcement agencies to help their fight against crime and hiring more police officers. The budget also includes supporting faith-based and community organizations designed to end violence, like Operation CeaseFire in Chicago, and the Education Department is sending a $500,000 grant to help Fenger School specifically.

Secretary Duncan stressed the rest of the country must understand that these children are facing many difficulties in their lives that makes them even more at risk, including living in homeless shelters and fending off family members who don't want to see them succeed.

"Chicago won't be defined by this incident, but rather by our response to it," said Duncan.—WLW

Do you think the federal government is doing enough to help the youth violence situation in our country?

 

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