A city-wide dialogue on youth violence reached the Chicago Campus on December 2 when more than 100 members of the surrounding community, including dozens of students from Kelly High School, Kenwood Academy, and South Shore High School, attended a town hall meeting hosted by The Chicago School Forensic Center. The event served as a kick off of the center's new Save Our School Children (S.O.S.) Program, an initiative that harnesses the expertise, experience, and talents of Forensic Center faculty and students seeking to do their part to reel in and help prevent the further spread of youth violence in Chicago.
The town hall was conceived as a means to help the Forensic Center and other community leaders gain fresh perspective of the root causes of violence and the challenges that today's urban youth face. A distinguished panel of individuals on the front lines of this issue helped frame the conversation.
Kyle Bailey, Kenwood Academy High School, Senior
Carmen Casas, Senior Deputy Chief Probation Officer for Cook County Juvenile Court's Probation Department and Court Services;
Khaldun Everage, Chicago Public Schools, Student Engagement & Community Outreach Manager, Regional Safety Facilitator, Gang Specialist
Cynthya Guadarrama, Thomas Kelly High School, Senior
Ronald Holt, Chicago Police Officer, Blair Holt Peace Alliance
Christopher Mallette, Director Community Safety Initiatives, City of Chicago
Judge Patrick E. McGann, Presiding Judge, Circuit Court, County Division
Willie Round, Thomas Kelly High School, Senior
Mark J. Walsh, Field Director, Illinois Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence
Lt. Barbara J. West, Chicago Police Department, CAPS Project Office
The program was monitored by CLTV Anchor Tonya Francisco with opening remarks delivered by Dr. Ellis Copeland, TCS Chicago Campus academic dean, and the organizer of the event, Dr. Michelle Hoy-Watkins, associate chair, Department of Forensic Psychology.
"Youth violence in Chicago has become the focus of nationwide attention. The continual cycle of violence calls for a multifaceted and city-wide response to create better solutions to prevent violence," said Dr. Hoy-Watkins "The Chicago School's Forensic S.O.S. program is committed to partnering with Chicago Public Schools' and its students to provide in-school services for those who are at risk for delinquency, and to create successful futures for them. Bringing the first S.O.S. town hall meeting to The Chicago School was an enormous success because of the large representation of CPS high school students. Most importantly, hearing first hand from the students and their parents their day-to-day concerns and recommendations to ending youth violence was invaluable."
Next on the agenda for the Forensic Center S.O.S Program is to finalize a three-pronged approach to help area youth: one program will be centered on youth development, the second focused on parent empowerment, and the third targeted to community outreach and support. Programming is currently being developed and targeted to begin in 2010.
The Forensic Center is staffed by Forensic Psychology Department faculty who collectively bring more than 25 years of experience and expertise to the initiative. Although launched with a single program, Parent-Child Interaction Therapy, The Forensic Center has since expanded to include a wide range of short-term services that address issues of delinquency, child maltreatment, pre-and post-transitional living for offenders, and victim-related trauma. As the practice arm of the Forensic Psychology Department, the Forensic Center brings students together with local organizations on projects that bolster hands-on learning experiences while addressing unmet needs in the community. In addition, the center offers professional development and continuing education workshops. For more information about the Forensic Center, visit www.forensiccenter.org. For more information regarding the S.O.S. Program or the town hall meeting, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.