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.

12 socially aware Chicago-area kids tell us what they think about the city’s struggles with violence, poverty and other serious issues.

Drugs, violence and homelessness are all big problems in Chicagoright now. Money is also a big problem for a lot of people inChicago, and I have also heard a lot about issues facing Chicago’sschools.Max

I think Chicago is facing some challenges right now, includingviolence, the closing of schools, andcrime.Taylor

Chicago is a big city and just like other big cities, we haveproblems with almosteverything.Lucy

There are a lot of drugsaround.Sergio

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

Chicago has a lot of homeless people who don’t have jobs orenough food. Things like this ruin Chicago’s reputation. This willmake people not want to visit here or livehere.Griffith

What are some of the challenges Chicago is facing?


I’ve heard about it. I think it’s bad and it should stop becausepeople are dying.Nasir

I just heard on the news that a teen stabbed another teenbecause he refused to be in hisgang.Riley

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

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

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

There is too much gun violence in Chicago. Most of it is gangrelated and it seems like in most of the stories, the persondoesn’t have any particular reason that they want to kill theperson.Max

Have you seen or heard about violence in our city?


We can ask crowds of people to make signs that say “stop theviolence” and march all overChicago.Nasir

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

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

The police could crack down on the gang leaders since gangscommit most of the murders. The city could also promote morecommunity watch programs so neighbors could watch out for eachother and identifycriminals.Griffith

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

Really you don’t actually need a gun to protect yourself. Youhave a phone to call the police. Guns can protect you but they cancause a lot of trouble.David

I think we should have all the people in Chicago pitch in andhelp the people who feel that violence is OK. It’snot.Taylor

I think that gun buyback programs would be good to get guns offthe 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 usethem responsibly.Max

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


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

People aren’t getting enough money to stay in their houses andpay their bills because of taxes and also gas is expensive. Itmakes people sad. I’ve seen homeless people on the street holdingup signs and downtown. David

When I see homeless people, I wonder if they do not have otherfamily or friends to help them. I see homeless people all the timeand I think they may have done things like drugs, drinking, madebad choices in their lives. Some homeless people are simply down ontheir luck or embarrassed to ask for help. Some have mental illnessand don’t even know how to ask for help.Camryn

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

Why do you think people are homeless?


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

What would happen if I came up to a person with a gun? Should Irun 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 menervous that there could be a bad person in our school. Having aplan makes me feel safer.David

Not usually, but this summer, we are going to get a church thatis for people who just came out of jail here in Woodridge. Thatscares 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 andscared.Riley

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

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


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

I think that we can also try to stop police brutality andcorruption, and try to push ourselves beyond what we consider ourlimits 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 allthe neighborhoods and also have more afterschool free programs sokids can play and hang out with their friends. Also, we need morepolice 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 tryto find someone who can use it. My parents say we are lucky, so wetry to help other people when we can-I think if everyone just triedto help someone else, even a little, Chicago would be happier.Sadie

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

Kids should not have to worry about walking through gangterritory to get to school or to walk home. There needs to be morecommunity patrol. Parents need to make sure they know what is goingon with their kids. It seems that no one listens or cares untilsomething happens to them. Everyone cares for about three weeks andthen things go back to normal. Camryn

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


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