A Response to Gang Violence in Chicago

As a response to gang violence, in 1990 the city of Chicago created a program to address that issue. The Street Intervention Program, or SIP, is located in 11 of Chicago's most at-risk communities. The program’s mission is to enhance the self-esteem of the youth population through after-school programs as well as individual tutoring contacts. In addition, the program attempts to lower the rate of gang violence through "prevention, intervention, mediation, and case management." The methods by which the program achieves its goals are by acting as mediators in gang conflicts, as well as by advocating peaceful solutions for individual and group disputes.

Staff of the SIP work with young people during daytime hours as well as on street corners at night as needed. The staff is comprised of people who have street, or grass roots, knowledge as well as experience, and are thus able to be in a position to relate well to the adolescents in the program. They are extremely familiar with what it means to be living in the inner-city neighborhoods of Chicago. In addition to working with young people, SIP focuses its efforts on school administrators, teachers and parents to educate them about gang violence, symbols, identification, and practices of the local street gangs.

The program's success can be illustrated by the fact that hundreds of youth have been given support and guidance in order to confront the myriad complex problems that are inherent to their lifestyles daily. The program helps individuals leave the gangs, and in some cases, helps them to get their high school diplomas and go on to lead successful lives. The program's positive outcomes have been documented in various publications such as the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Magazine, as well as many television segments. Although gang problems remain a significant issue in Chicago, the SIP program has certainly played a significant role in decreasing the risk.