06/15/2012 12:34 pm ET Updated Aug 15, 2012

Increasing Homicides in Chicago

Homicides are up in Chicago by 44 percent from January 1, 2012 to May 31, 2012 and 223 homicides reported during the period of January 1, 2012 to June 11, 2012 according to the Chicago Tribune Red Eye data. There is a reason why homicides are up in Chicago and everybody has to come together to help stem this tide of violence that continues to take the lives of so many young people in the city, just like some of the great plagues of the world. One would think that Chicago is like a war zone when you compare some of the news stories from Afghanistan and the recent bombings in Iraq.

Young people in Chicago are crying out for help and guidance, and it appears that there is no way out for some of our young people from certain neighborhoods in Chicago. Petty arguments, dice games, being rejected from your girl, getting denied access to a house party, and general misunderstandings often turn deadly in some neighborhoods due to the level of toxicity in the minds of the perpetrators of violence. It's hard to predict when someone may harm another human being when that person has already premeditated for days about his or her plans to harm someone the same way a 16-year-old was killed on the Southside of Chicago during an argument over a bicycle. Even though a lot of the violence is labeled as gang-related in the press, once you take a closer look, you will find out that the majority of conflicts stem from interpersonal conflict that escalate into a gang conflict.

On Saturday June 9, 2012 the CeaseFire Violence Interrupters were called to mediate a conflict between a 10-year-old African American male and a 12-year-old African American male on the Westside of Chicago that almost turned deadly because the adult family members got involved in the conflict. The 10-year-old beat up the 12-year-old that was trying to bully him and the twelve year old ran home to tell his family members that three young men jumped on him. The 12-year-old returned to the 10-year-old's house with six adult family members and his family members beat up the 10-year-old's aunt. Then the aunt called her relatives and before you know it we had a potential gang conflict on our hands that started with two children. The Violence Interrupter mediated the conflict and everybody calmed down before things got way out of control.

This conflict represents one out of 225 conflicts that the Violence Interrupters have mediated from January 2012-May 2012. Young people are growing up thinking that violence is their only option and some adults reinforce this message on a daily basis. It's time to work on changing behaviors with the most high risk youth in Chicago. This is one way you can teach young people that there are other ways to deal with everyday frustration and your emotions before taking somebody's life and in return losing your life to the penal system.