Measuring violence in Chicago: Which Numbers Do We Count?

How do we know what’s happening when we talk about crime? By the numbers, right?

But which numbers?

As the Sun-Times pointed out yesterday, only Philadelphia has a higher homicide rate than Chicago.

But I think that ‘s misleading. The violence that drives those numbers here doesn’t live everywhere in Chicago. It lurks in only a few neighborhoods and they are black or Latino.

So, shouldn’t we talk about the violence rate in these neighborhoods instead?

Consider this list of 107 youths (compiled by the Black Star Project) who died between March 2011 and March 2012 in Chicago. Five involved child abuse. All the rest were shot were stabbed or died some other violent way. Notice the neighborhoods too.


This is one reason why we’re holding a meeting on June 28th to bring the news media together with organizations and experts that can tell you what drives violence in Chicago, what helps stop it, and what more needs to be done.

About 30 groups that deal with youth violence will be on hand for interviews in addition to resources prepared for covering youth violence here.

If you are reporting on youth violence, at this event  you will:

• Meet individuals from the organizations most involved in coping with youth violence here.

•Benefit from a resource list of dozens of Chicago area sources and experts, public and private, who can help background and shape your reporting on youth violence here.

• Gain insight from a reporting guide based on covering youth violence nationally that can help you plan coverage that will take you beyond yesterday’s tragedy.

WBEZ reporter and South Side bureau chief Natalie Moore is the moderator for our event.

This is a joint effort of the Community Media Workshop and Strengthening Chicago’s Youth, an anti-violence campaign anchored at Children’s Memorial Hospital.Our goal is to help Chicago’s news media tell the whole story about youth violence, and to know where and how to get the information from those closest to what’s happening.

Where: 33 East Congress, first floor, Columbia College, journalism building (Congress and Wabash) CTA bus and train stops are nearby. Link here for a map:

When: 9 am to 11:30 am.

Contact: Stephen Franklin, Community Media Workshop, office – 312 369 7782, cell – 773 5958667,

Rebecca Levin, Strategic Director, Injury Prevention and Research Center, Ann & Robert Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, 312-227-6948,

This is part of our We Are Not Alone/No Estamos Solos project. Please join us and support our work to make a difference.

photo by Carlos Javier Ortiz



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