Advice from teens

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A cross-section of high school students talked to Catalyst Chicago about strategies to prevent school violence. Here’s a sample of what they said.

START EARLY

“Start teaching kids at a young age that violence isn’t normal.  We’ve grown so accustomed to it being normal, like, ‘Hey, let’s box it out.’ If you could start mentoring kids at an earlier age, 3rd grade [and] even kindergarten, then as they grow older… that won’t be their first resort to solve a problem.”

—Sara Martinez, 17, Curie Metro High


KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR TROUBLE

“The parent patrol is … like a neighborhood watch. You have the community looking out to make sure that nothing happens to students, to make sure they get to school safe.  On school grounds, we have parents at different [areas], saying ‘Good morning’ to students, being a mentor, letting them know, ‘Hey, you can talk to me, just let me know if anything happens.’ It has an effect because it has a mentoring side and a safety side.”

—Shunnetta Brown, 17, TEAM Englewood High

DON’T DEPEND ON METAL DETECTORS

“I see a lot of people who just walk around the security detector and keep going.  And sometimes the thing doesn’t even work. If somebody touches it, it goes off.  There have been countless times where I’ve seen weapons in school, things that it didn’t catch.”

—Laurise Johnson, 16, Sullivan High

“We have the scanner that you put your bag through, but they only do that to certain people.  I’ve never gotten my bag checked, and I don’t know if it’s because I’m a senior. I’m cool with the security guards, but it’s like they pick out people they’re unfamiliar with and have them scan their bag.  Right now, our metal detectors don’t work.”

—Jonathan Johnson, 17, Lincoln Park High

PAY ATTENTION OUTSIDE SCHOOL

“We don’t have that many fights around our school. But when we do have a fight, mostly outside, it’s really, really bad.  About 10 different people jump in, protecting each other, and the police come.  One time, there was a huge gang thing—they had a whole bunch of guys on one side, and a bunch of other guys across the street, throwing bricks. The fights are usually right in front of the school, after school.”

—Thomas Hoskins, 16, Curie Metro High

KEEP STUDENTS BUSY

“At my school, they’re trying to overwhelm us with so many activities and programs to cut down on the violence because in the neighborhood that our school is in, it’s easy to run into trouble.  They push the work, and college, and we’ve got so many clubs.  Now, the environment is so much better.”

—Jonathan Harvey, 17, Urban Prep Academy