Societal issues lead to violence

Communities that have increased levels of poverty, as well as a list of other issues, are more likely to have more violence.

by Syndey Karlos, Staff Writer

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The United States of America obviously has a gun problem. With the continuous rise in mass shootings, we seem to be unaware of the mass amounts of violence that are not shown on the news.

Why do we not talk about the multiple shootings that happen weekly in Chicago, as often as we should?

Why aren’t many people outside of Chicago talking about how every weekend, at least one person in Chicago is shot?

The Stanford Libraries define a mass shooting as, “three or more shooting victims (not necessarily fatalities), not including the shooter.

The shooting must not be identifiably gang, drug or organized crime related.”

Now, Chicago violence probably can’t be labeled as mass shootings, but it can definitely be labeled as mass violence.

I am a Northwest Chicago native.

When I moved to San Diego, I was surprised to see how little everyone around me was educated on the violence in my city.

When I told them every weekend, at least a few people are shot, they were surprised.

Some were appalled.

They couldn’t believe there was so much violence in one city.

By July of this year, at least 1,433 people had been shot in the city, and there have been at least 246 homicides.

Believe it or not, these numbers are actually down from the year before.

In one weekend this past August, 66 people were shot, including 12 who died.

Most of the violence in Chicago happens in the South and West sides.

This is not saying  violence does not happen in any other areas in the city and suburbs, but this is where a majority of the violence comes from.

The South and West sides are some of the poorest areas of Chicago. 

According to the American Psychological Association, “Community level risk factors for violence include increased levels of unemployment, poverty and transiency; decreased levels of economic opportunity and community participation; poor housing conditions; gang activity, emotional distress and a lack of access to services.” 

Communities that have increased levels of poverty, as well as a list of other issues, are more likely to have more violence.

We can’t just blame these communities for the rampant violence when they are not given the resources to become better.

Lack of resources, such as things like mental health facilities, can lead to more violence in communities. 

According to the American Journal of Managed Care, researchers have found that “over 4 in 10 communities in the highest income quartile had any type of special mental health treatment location, compared with less than a quarter of those in the lowest quartile.”

A lack of resources means a lack of opportunity to become better.

Another big problem facing these communities is that wealth is not evenly distributed in big cities like Chicago. According to Axios, “the median income in the majority-African-American neighborhood is $20,000 less than the median income for Chicago, and almost a third of the neighborhood’s residents live below the poverty line.” 

The city provides money for the downtown and higher income areas rather than the poor neighborhoods, which makes it harder for poor black families to gain access to economic activity.

As a result, African Americans live near lower-quality educational opportunities and have access to fewer job opportunities than other people in Chicago.

Chicago’s economic segregation practically built a wall around these poor neighborhoods.

 In 2013, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel made the decision to close 54 public schools under the jurisdiction of Chicago Public Schools, the third-largest school district in the United States.

They did this saying that they were “helping” families in poverty.

Many union leaders, activists and parents argued closings can undermine neighborhoods and cause safety problems for students who may as a result have to cross gang lines. 

Additionally, many of the schools that were closed were located in communities of poverty.

Many families can’t afford to have their children go to “nicer” schools because of expenses and transportation.

With this, many children and teens decided not to continue their education, which will sometimes lead these kids to gangs that prey on vulnerable youth.

It’s not hard to believe school closings affect the poor and minorities, but according to The New York Times, in the 100 schools that have closed since 2001, 88 percent of the students affected were black.

Black students make up 42 percent of the city school enrollment. This is yet another example of how drastically the depletion of resources in poor communities affect the people that live there.

To make matters worse, these communities don’t even have the help of their local politicians to fix these issues.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel  blamed “a lack of morals in predominantly black and Hispanic neighborhoods” for the influx of crime.

Not only is this extremely racist, but the fact that the mayor of Chicago would rather blame the victims rather than the people who are causing the problem or the city’s disproportionate lack of resources is disgusting. 

It’s important to note that many murders in the city of Chicago go unsolved because of the lack of staffing in the police force.

In fact, according to Axios just 17 percent of murders in Chicago were solved in 2017.

In addition, more police officers are given desk jobs.

When mayor Rahm Emanuel took office, he promised more police on the streets, but according to ProPublica, even as the city spends tens of millions of taxpayer dollars on police overtime and hiring, hundreds of officers have taken desk jobs in the department over the last four years.

 These officers are doing non-police work, such as data entry, graphic design or grant writing, which obviously diverts them from deployments in city neighborhoods, where officials say they’re needed and where residents want them.

The violence in Chicago has gone on for too long.

Until the segregation of economic status ends and politicians start providing resources for poor communities, the violence will not stop.

We, as a country, need to come together and do something about the violence. No one should be losing their loved ones over senseless violence

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