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Don’t Shoot. I Must Grow Up!

On November 15, 2012 a town hall meeting took place at Columbia College in Chicago, held by Columbia Links. The meeting was centered on the increase in violence and how Chicago teens are being affected. There was a panel discussion that included the I-Team, doctors, teenagers, and people affiliated with the police department. They presented their findings and past experiences that involve violence.

Personal experiences were talked about in this meeting from a few of the panelist. One of the panelists, Marcus Carothers, was a former gang banger starting at the age of 14, but is now a Motivational Speaker and Filmmaker who decided to get his life together after being incarcerated. Carothers stated, “I found myself in a world all by myself. The need to be accepted got me initiated…lack of guidance influenced my decision making.” People like him can be a role model for gang initiated teens that need someone to talk to, especially someone with experience.

Another panelist, Angela Hongo, a resident and activist of Pill Hill, was a mother who experienced the loss of her son due to gang violence. She was and is the type of mother who let the thugs into her house, but they respected her. Some even told her that they wished that they had someone like her that actually cared about them to tell them that they’re going down the wrong path. We need more adults as well as teenagers to talk to the youth and our peers about the path that their going down. A lot of the gang members need comfort, but are looking for it in the wrong places.

Teenagers can make a huge difference in the violence around Chicago especially because we are closer to our peers than adults are. If you see that one of your friends is going down the wrong path tell them; sit down and talk to them as well as recommend an adult they can talk to. These teens in Columbia Links are making a difference by hosting the town hall meeting. If they can do it so can you. You don’t have to do it the same way they did, but at least make an effort. It doesn’t have to be a town hall meeting, but it can be a little group meeting after school to discuss today’s violence and how your peers feel about it – even the ones involved in the violence. Something small like that can have a huge effect on someone and you may not even know it.

By – Symone Jackson, Junior, Morgan Park High School

Written by IVC Productions

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