Nearly 700 children were hit by gunfire last year in Chicago, according to a report by NPR. NPR has been chronicling the efforts by Chicago schools, police and the community to reduce the violence.
One noteworthy effort is CeaseFire, a public health strategy designed to stop violence in poor, urban neighborhoods by helping at-risk youth find employment and by patrolling the streets. The group's interventions in risky neighborhoods and work with gang members have helped decrease shootings and killings.
In an interview with NPR, 17-year-old CeaseFire client Deyontaye Brooms talks about how the program dramatically changed his life. Brooms is a junior at Fenger Academy High School -- a school infamous for a cell phone video of the beating death of student Derrion Albert that went viral in 2009 -- in Chicago's Roseland district, a rough south side neighborhood rampant with gangs and gang fights.
Brooms says he's aware of the violence in his area -- before he hooked up with CeaseFire, he was one of the perpetrators.
"I was in a gang. It happens," he says. "You know, I used to be out here robbing people, shooting at people, breaking in their houses. I was doing everything I could to get the money, selling drugs and everything. Everything."
Brooms is on probation for getting into an altercation with a school security guard. He says that CeaseFire helped prevent him from getting kicked out of school. While he still has some problems at school, his grades have improved and he says he hopes CeaseFire can help him find employment.
CeaseFire launched in 2000 in one of the most violent communities in Chicago. Since then, the organization's results have been replicated more than 18 times and have been shown to be effective by a U.S. Department of Justice-funded, independent three-year evaluation. To learn more about CeaseFire and to find out how to can help, please follow the links below.