Chicago youth tell incoming mayor: help us end violence

05 Jan

The Mikva Challenge, a well-known youth civic engagement organization in Chicago, does a great job of engaging young people in the democratic process.  On December, 12, Mikva held a youth convention, to set priorities for the city, in preparation for the upcoming mayoral election.  The youth identified violence against girls and young women as a priority, and they had clear ideas on what needed to be put in place in their schools.  The Chicago Sun Times reported that:

In votes taken at the convention, 37 percent of students said having high school classes on healthy relationships would help reduce the numbers of sexual assault cases.  Thirty-one percent want to hold support groups for survivors of sexual assault.

We couldn’t agree more with these suggestions.Dear Mayor

Now, on a new website,, we have a chance to hear directly from young people about their priorities with our next mayor.  It’s worth a visit to the site to hear directly from youth across Chicago about the issues they face, their ideas for a better future, and their policy priorities.

Here at the Taskforce, we were struck by just how many of the young people spoke about violence.  We’d like to draw your attention to two letters to the mayor, in particular:

First, Azairian Cartman of DuSable Leadership Academy urges the mayor to address issues of domestic violence:

Dear Mayor,

For your first 100 days elected as my very first mayor, I would LOVE to see you discuss the issue of domestic violence.  Families are being torn apart, women are dying and domestic violence is being brought down from one generation to the next.  You could have workshops in Chicago Public libraries for students, you could have workshops in college classes with adults and you could also have a video for the little people on domestic violence.

Your Chicago Resident,
Azairian Cartman

And in this powerful video, Lena from ACE Tech Charter Academy shares her views on homophobia, and how it contributes to depression, low self esteem and violence:

It is crucial that we hear from young people themselves about what should be done to make their lives safer.  Thanks to the Mikva Challenge and the youth who have led this effort for sharing their work with us!

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Posted by on January 5, 2011 in Public policy, Youth voices


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