Chicago kids speak out on the city's challenges


Chicago is a beautiful, world-class city. However, like all big cities, it faces serious social issues that impact us all. You likely worry about violence, poverty, drugs, homelessness and other challenges. We wondered what Chicago kids think about those challenges, so we had 12 socially aware Chicago-area kids weigh in.

The bottom line: Our kids are very aware of the problems in our community. In fact, many of them are directly impacted by these concerns every day. The good news is that the next generation of Chicagoans is thinking about ways to make Chicago a better place for all.


What are some of the challenges Chicago is facing?

Drugs, violence and homelessness are all big problems in Chicago right now. Money is also a big problem for a lot of people in Chicago, and I have also heard a lot about issues facing Chicago's schools. Max

I think Chicago is facing some challenges right now, including violence, the closing of schools, and crime. Taylor

Chicago is a big city and just like other big cities, we have problems with almost everything. Lucy

There are a lot of drugs around.Sergio

There is violence, such as carjackings, and some gun violence. At my school, two people had drugs. Jack

Chicago has a lot of homeless people who don't have jobs or enough food. Things like this ruin Chicago's reputation. This will make people not want to visit here or live here. Griffith


Have you seen or heard about violence in our city?

I've heard about it. I think it's bad and it should stop because people are dying. Nasir

I just heard on the news that a teen stabbed another teen because he refused to be in his gang. Riley

How could you not hear about the violence in our city? Every time you turn on the television, radio or Internet, you hear about violence in Chicago. Camryn

Even if you just watch the news, countless episodes of violence and crime happen in our city. From gun violence to drugs to rape, sometimes it seems like we've got it all. Lucy

All you hear on the news is bad people killing innocent people for no reason. Diego

There is too much gun violence in Chicago. Most of it is gang related and it seems like in most of the stories, the person doesn't have any particular reason that they want to kill the person. Max


What do you think we could do to make our city less violent?

We can ask crowds of people to make signs that say "stop the violence" and march all over Chicago. Nasir

I think the government should take away all weapons and give them to the military. Diego

If there were no guns, there would be no shootings. Sadie

The police could crack down on the gang leaders since gangs commit most of the murders. The city could also promote more community watch programs so neighbors could watch out for each other and identify criminals. Griffith

Well, there seems to be a lot of meetings and marches about stopping the violence, but we need to do more things in schools. The adults are doing a lot of things, but they need to involve more kids. No one is talking about violence in my school. Camryn

Really you don't actually need a gun to protect yourself. You have a phone to call the police. Guns can protect you but they can cause a lot of trouble. David

I think we should have all the people in Chicago pitch in and help the people who feel that violence is OK. It's not. Taylor

I think that gun buyback programs would be good to get guns off the street. I'm not opposed to responsible people being gun owners, but way too many guns are in the hands of people who do not use them responsibly. Max


Why do you think people are homeless?

I read that veterans make up 25 percent of the homeless people in the U.S. and that veterans are often at a higher risk of homelessness. Many people are homeless due to drug use. Some are homeless due to disabilities preventing them from working. Some are homeless because they don't have friends or family to take care of them when they are old. Max

People aren't getting enough money to stay in their houses and pay their bills because of taxes and also gas is expensive. It makes people sad. I've seen homeless people on the street holding up signs and downtown. David

When I see homeless people, I wonder if they do not have other family or friends to help them. I see homeless people all the time and I think they may have done things like drugs, drinking, made bad choices in their lives. Some homeless people are simply down on their luck or embarrassed to ask for help. Some have mental illness and don't even know how to ask for help. Camryn

If you live in Chicago you see homeless people. I think people are homeless because they lost their jobs. My mom says some people are homeless because they are sick and it makes a normal life for them very hard. Sadie


Do you ever see or hear about things that make you feel nervous or unsafe?

There is some drug use in my community that I hear about and I don't like that, but it doesn't make me feel nervous or unsafe because it isn't happening near me. There is some violence, but again I don't see it happening and it isn't around me, so it doesn't make me feel unsafe, but I would prefer if there weren't violence. Max

What would happen if I came up to a person with a gun? Should I run and hide or call the police? We have lockdown drills in school. I trust the school because it's a safe school. It does make me nervous that there could be a bad person in our school. Having a plan makes me feel safer.David

Not usually, but this summer, we are going to get a church that is for people who just came out of jail here in Woodridge. That scares me because it will be right next to my school. Taylor

In my neighborhood, people broke into other people's houses. This happened even when people were home. This makes me nervous and scared.Riley

There are a lot of gangs, shootings and suspicious people on the corners of my community, a lot of yelling, shouting, robberies, cars speeding down the street at night and a lot of sirens. Our parents do not allow us to play in the front of our house. We can't even go bike riding around the neighborhood. It is not safe to just take a walk to the park or store with friends. Camryn


What ideas do you have to make Chicago a safer, happier place?

I think that poverty is the first thing that should be taken care of, because it is what leads to a lot of gang activity, violence, drug use and homelessness.Max

I think that we can also try to stop police brutality and corruption, and try to push ourselves beyond what we consider our limits to be to stop crime. Jack

We could put 911 call buttons on streetlights. Griffith

My ideas for a safer Chicago is to have more parks built in all the neighborhoods and also have more afterschool free programs so kids can play and hang out with their friends. Also, we need more police officers patrolling our streets. Diego

I would also like to find ways to help families not be hungry. We try not to throw anything out. We donate whatever we can or try to find someone who can use it. My parents say we are lucky, so we try to help other people when we can-I think if everyone just tried to help someone else, even a little, Chicago would be happier. Sadie

I think that problems start at young ages. In order to stop future problems, I think we need to help troubled children learn right from wrong and feel safe.Lucy

Kids should not have to worry about walking through gang territory to get to school or to walk home. There needs to be more community patrol. Parents need to make sure they know what is going on with their kids. It seems that no one listens or cares until something happens to them. Everyone cares for about three weeks and then things go back to normal. Camryn


Meet our panel


Kids Eat Chicago

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