Young and Dangerous

Sometimes I don't let my children as far as the next house." says Gregorio Gonzalez. Gonzalez is a self proclaimed former gang banger from the Humboldt park area of Chicago. "One of the worst neighborhoods you could be raised in."

Now the 36 year old father of four is trying to save his kids from the same fate. "I worry that at that young age when there's so much crime and bad things happening here in the stateline, it's just a shame these young children just slip through the crack."

Gonzalez believes the two keys to keeping children away from guns and violence is a good education ("I believe education leads to non incarcination.") and good family support. But even Gonzalez realizes that there are no guarantees. "When they leave my house to go to school, they're hanging out with buddies. When they come home from school, they're hanging out with their buddy's buddy. And they're buddy's buddy is someone I don't know and their buddy's buddy might have a gun."

The schools seem to be a bit of a safe haven from gun violence. District 205 Superintendent Dr. Dennis Thompson tells me last year their were 29 weapons confiscated in all 58 schools..but that included knives and toy pistols. "Only 2 or 3 were actual pistols and they were unloaded, but they're still weapons."

Dr. Thompson says they way District 205 recovered 100 percent of their weapons this year was by a referrel from another student. "I tell everyone that we will catch you because the minute you show someone they will turn you in even if they're your best friends, because they know the difference between right and wrong."

While schools are relatively gun free, streets are clearly not for teens. ATF Special Agent Andy Traver says "Gangs know that when you have a youth or teenager involved in a shooting that they are going to go to juvenile court and the penalty for that is much less than an adult so a lot of times gangs will use juveniles in their shootings because if they get caught their penalties are much less."

So that's why gangs seek teens but why do teens seek gangs and guns?."Of course when you're that age", said Traver, "You're confused enough about your place in the world and you're easily influenced. And unfortunately kids look up to local gang members and idolize them."

Dr Thompson adds, "We think we can hurt someone and just like a video game, we can just restart it and you can get back up. You know when you're young, you don't have enough life experience to know that when you hurt somebody, you can hurt them very badly forever."

Gonzalez offers "Pokeman Dragon Ball Z and all that you kill your enemies and you know they see that"


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