Medill Reports put out an article today that stated that the Illinois State Crime Commission and the Police Athletic League are going to introduce a new youth anti-violence initiative: learning to box. How will a violent sport deter violence?
Boxing lessons will deter gun violence in the sense that it will provide kids with activities instead of allowing them to be on the streets and getting into trouble. It will provide a community for them where they can meet and feel like they are a part of something larger. The program could also provide the sense of manliness inner-city males seek out in gang membership.
However, the program was inititally suggested as a way to reroute the anger kids face in their daily lives to less extreme measures. Therefore, it is not addressing the suggested root cause of the violence in our city: the level of anger these kids face in their lives. Should the City be rerouting or eliminating it? I think we know what the answer is.
Yes, there is the possibility this program would lead to less gun violence, but wouldn't it also just increase more hand-to-hand violence in schools? What about the effect a program like this would have on bullying, an already heavily prevalent problem in CPS schools? The real mission of a program targeting inner-city kids' anger is to find out why they are angry and fixing those reasons.
During an event I went to where students from all across Chicago were talking about issues important to them, I couldn't help but notice the undertone of anger these kids' speeches had. Anger at their parents for not raising 'good kids,' anger at police for harassing youth of color, and just a general anger at the terrible system that they are forced to live in that doesn't give them opportunities to succeed.
Let's expand this boxing program into general programs for inner-city youth, and maybe then we can start removing the real reason these kids are angry and turning to gang violence rather just rerouting their anger.