This research points to a tale of two—if not three or four—cities, where
foundational conditions like safety vary widely and people living in these contrasting
zones may struggle to understand one another’s lived realities. Of course, violence is not
the only factor defining the gulf between different areas in the City. There is a clear link
between levels of poverty, race and levels of violence in Chicago neighborhoods,
whereby the five highest-poverty Chicago neighborhoods have a homicide rate that is
eleven times higher than in the City’s least poor neighborhoods.29 While the poorest
neighborhoods are predominately African-American with a poverty rate between forty
and sixty-one percent, the least poor neighborhoods are predominately Caucasian and
have a three to six percent poverty rate.30 Additionally, strong evidence links
neighborhoods’ socioeconomic status and rates of child maltreatment,31 leaving residents
in Chicago’s highest-violence neighborhoods to face the triple challenges of poverty,
heightened exposure to community violence and increased rates of child abuse and
neglect. Meanwhile, as will be discussed, arrest, prosecution and incarceration have
become the dominant government responses to violence in these areas, positioning the
government in a continual mode of reaction and suppression.
B. The Impact of Poverty and Trauma on Child Development
High rates on poverty32 and trauma33 in disadvantaged neighborhoods pose clear
obstacles to children’s well-being and to the full realization of implementing the CRC in
the City. Whereas poverty has been shown to create high levels of stress, impairing
phenomena like early linguistic development,34 trauma also creates dramatically
increased stress levels and has been conclusively linked to disruptions in both neuro- and
“[a]mong [ten] to [twenty-four] year-olds, homicide is the leading cause of death for African-Americans;
the second leading cause of death for Hispanics; and the third leading cause of death [sic] American Indians
and Alaska Natives”).
29 Steve Bogira, Deadly Poverty, CHI. READER (Aug. 22, 2012),
disparities/Content?oid=7256286 (comparing Clearing, Norwood Park, Beverly, Edison Park, and Mount
Greenwood as the least-poor neighborhoods in Chicago and West Garfield Park, East Garfield Park,
Englewood, Fuller Park and Riverdale as the poorest neighborhoods in Chicago).
30 Id. An average of 96.6% African-Americans live in the the poorest neighborhoods in Chicago, compared
to the least poor, which have an average of 7.6% African-American residents. Id.
31 James Garbarino, & Frank Barry, The Community Context of Child Abuse and Neglect, in JAMES
GARBARINO & JOHN ECKENRODE, UNDERSTANDING ABUSIVE FAMILIES: AN ECOLOGICAL APPROACH TO
THEORY AND PRACTICE 57 (1997); James Garbarino & Ann Crouter, Defining the Community Context for
Parent-Child Relations: The Correlates of Child Maltreatment, 49 CHILD DEV. 604, 605 (1978); James
Garbarino, & Kathleen Kostelny, Child Maltreatment as a Community Problem, 16 CHILD ABUSE &
NEGLECT 455, 456 (1992).
32 In this Article, poverty is defined as the absence of the resources needed to ensure survival. See Poverty:
What Is It?, EUR.AN TI-POVERTY NETWORK, http://www.eapn.eu/en/what-is-poverty/poverty-what-is-it
(last visited Mar. 11, 2014).
33 This Article defines trauma as the disruption of healthy development through the experience of extreme
adverse events. See KATHLEEN J. MOROZ, THE EFFECTS OF PSYCHOLOGICAL TRAUMA ON CHILDREN AND
ADOLESCENTS 17 (2005), available at http://www.mentalhealth.vermont.gov/report.
34 See Betty Hart & Todd R. Risley, The Early Catastrophe: The 30 Million Word Gap by Age 3, AM.
EDUCATOR, Spring 2003, at 4, 7.