result, this Article argues that it is nearly impossible for Chicago to uphold its 2009
resolution to “advance policies and practices that are in harmony with the principles of
the [CRC] in all city agencies and organizations that address issues directly affecting the
City’s children.”136 The current public safety system is oriented toward punishment, yet
the goal of punishment does not align with community-based organizations’ efforts to
ensure development, safety, and rehabilitation of children.
Currently, Chicago’s response to crime and violence fails to build any real human
capital or to address the underlying traumas of individuals and groups involved in violent
activities.137 Most notably, the public safety system’s punitive policies have largely failed
to address underlying neighborhood stressors in those areas with the highest levels of
poverty, violence, and rates of incarceration.138
To close the public safety gap between high-violence neighborhoods and more
affluent areas, it is necessary to first close the gap between Chicago’s stated desire to
uphold the Rights of the Child and its actual capacity to do so.139 In particular, service
providers, community coalitions, and governmental entities must build our public safety
system’s capacity to uphold children’s rights to survival and development, protection
from all forms of violence, and rehabilitation following victimization. Because previous
victimization is strongly correlated with future offending,140 the full realization of any
one of these rights has the potential to transform the lived realities for thousands of
children in Chicago’s highest-stress communities. Recognizing and ensuring these rights,
however, should not be isolated to one or two of the City’s public systems, as Chicago’s
children are directly affected by a wide spectrum of city agencies.141 Cook County and
the State of Illinois must therefore be held to the same standards of excellence whenever
such an agency applies its authority in ways that impact children and youth in Chicago
neighborhoods. Only with a standardized approach can we hope to comprehensively
address the underlying drivers of violence affecting the survival and development of
youth and communities that disproportionately affects Chicago’s South and West
In place of a near-total concern with punishment, this Article calls for a public
safety system that places proactive violence prevention in a manner that protects the
136 Chicago Resolution, supra note 7.
137 See supra Part III.
138 See supra Part III.
139 See supra Part II and III for a description of the gap between the ideals of the CRC and the realities of
cumulative disadvantage impacting many of Chicago’s youth.
140 See MENARD, supra note 57, at 2.
141 Agencies providing services of funding to Chicago’s youth include the Department of Family Support
Services, Department of Public Health, and the Public Safety Consortium, consisting of the Fire, Police,
Aviation and Public Health departments as well as the Office of Emergency Management and
Communications (“OEMC”) and Chicago Transit Authority (“CTA”). Department of Family Support
Services, CITY OF CHI., http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/fss.html (last visited May 5, 2014);
Department of Public Health, CITY OF CHI.,
visited May 5, 2014); Safety Programs and Initiatives, CITY OF CHI.,
http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/progs/safety.html (last visited May 5, 2014).