School Violence On the Rise: Report

New data shows increase

By Steve Rhodes
|  Tuesday, Oct 20, 2009  |  Updated 2:06 PM CDT
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Reports of violent incidents at Chicago's public schools have risen nearly 20 percent in the last year, according to an analysis by Catalyst, a journal that covers Chicago's schools.

What's still not clear is whether the number of incidents have actually increased or if the reporting of such incidents has gotten better.

Catalyst editor Lorraine Forte points out in the comments section of the piece that if the reporting has merely gotten better it just shows that violence was more prevalent all along.

The journal's data does seem to conform, however, to the anecdotal evidence about youth violence in Chicago.

For example, the numbers show that the rate of school code violations have "soared" at Fenger High School in the last two years. (Reporter Sarah Karp notes, however, that the beating death of Derrion Albert took place off of school grounds; as most incidents of violence that have captured the media's attention have.)

Catalyst also found that the rate of school code violations system-wide has increased nearly three times in the last three years.

The school district hasn't yet responded to Catalyst's findings, but this isn't the end of Catalyst's analysis; it's just the beginning. The publication got the data it was seeking just last week after a year in which it filed two Freedom of Information Act requests.

We still don't know exactly what's going on in Chicago's public schools in terms of violence, but the picture is becoming clearer.

Steve Rhodes is the proprietor of The Beachwood Reporter, a Chicago-centric news and culture review.

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