Safeguarding Children on Their Way to School

With a $10 million State of Illinois infusion for 2015, Chicago’s “Safe Passage” anti-violence program is now covering more of the city’s public schools.

Nearly 2,000 part-time workers from community groups now stand watch on routes around neighborhood schools—mostly in areas that have been violence-prone—ensuring children can travel safely to and from their homes. The state money, on top of $1 million in additional funding from Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, came after data spotlighted by the Chicago Public Schools showed a 27 percent drop in incidents among students over the previous two years, along with a 7 percent increase in school attendance.

Critics have argued, however, that overall violence around some Safe Passage routes has not gone down – and that there have been incidents of shootings and assaults on or around certain routes, while others argue the workers are ill-trained to keep the passages truly safe. Last month, the Chicago Police Department reported data showing the city’s murder rate in 2014 declined about 20 percent from the 2012 figure of 504 killings even as shootings were up.

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