The city of Chicago recently hired hundreds of guards to escort and protect children as they walked to school through gang-ridden neighborhoods.
Ironically, the Illinois city has some of the most stringent gun laws in the United States, yet children need trained security officers simply to walk a few blocks to school.
The Chicago Safe Passage program includes security guards adorned in neon vests lined at the sidewalk in neighborhoods where schools have closed and where students must walk further to get to their new learning institution. The supposedly safe streets lined with guards are called “Safe Passage” routes.
The third-largest school district in the nation has been struggling both fiscally and academically in recent years. Chicago Mayor and former Obama administration official Rahm Emanuel hand-picked the members of the Chicago Board of Education. In May, the governing body opted to close approximately 50 elementary schools.
A group of parents claiming that minority students were “disproportionately affected” by the building closures and would have to cross various gang boundaries sued to halt the closures, but a federal judge denied the request to change the district’s plans.
A grandmother who once walked her 9-year-old granddaughter to her former elementary school was upset that the child now has to go four miles to a new school and believes the security guards are merely a “show-and-tell” for now and that the added protection will not last.
Students in my rural county often have to go 20 miles to get to school, but are transported by bus or parents. There is no need for additional security here, regardless of which neighborhoods children walk through to get to the nearest bus stop – but the majority of the population owns guns.
A 2007 study published in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy found that European countries that had higher legal gun ownership rates also had less violent crime.
“Gun ownership spread widely throughout societies consistently correlates with stable or declining murder rates,” the authors wrote. “Whether causative or not, the consistent international pattern is that more guns equal less murder and other violent crime. Even if one is inclined to think that gun availability is an important factor, the available international data cannot be squared with the mantra that more guns equal more death and fewer guns equal less death. Rather, if firearms availability does matter, the data consistently show that the way it matters is that more guns equal less violent crime.”
The “burden of proof” rests on supporters of gun control, the study said.
There reportedly were multiple shootings along the Safe Passage routes to school over the summer months, at least five have been injured and one of the male victims recently died.
In fact, the night before students returned to class, a 28-year-old man with gang ties was shot.
Said Emanuel, “Safe Passage is about more than just building a route to school. It is about building a route to college, career, and beyond, so that once our kids get to school, they get the world-class education they deserve.”
Emanuel called the change in building assignments and security guards a “new beginning” for the Chicago school district. District official Barbara Byrd-Bennett feels the building closures will help decrease the $1 billion budget deficit and improve academic prowess.
“Safe Passage is just not the geographic passage where children walk,” Byrd-Bennett told reporters. “It’s a comprehensive strategy involving multiple resources of the sister agencies.”