Community, family, key to heading off youth violence

Opinion

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Thank you, Bill Dwyer, for your "Youth violence on rise in villages" report on December 15. Thanks also to those 13 officials representing three school districts, two police forces, the township youth team, the NAACP and clergy.

These people assembled to cooperate in dealing with violence and uncivil behavior among a small group of Oak Park male teens.

We residents appreciate this concerted and ongoing response. Some people named in Mr. Dwyer's story are: John Williams, Sgt. Jacques Conway, and Juvenile Officer Phyliss Howard. They visited 10 homes of the 15 youth involved in the December 4 incident.

Principals Trahanis and Bridge described some bad behavior observed and dealt with in their schools. Principals of our Middle Schools have experienced similar disciplinary problems. It's a community and family problem, not a school-only or needing of a police department solution.

A special thanks to Deputy Police Chief Robert Scianna. His long experience with gangs, their criminal enterprises, their hierarchy and expectations of their members is of great value to our village residents.

Rev. Wiley Samuels of Fellowship Community Services is dealing with the alienation of some boys and troubled teens. More reachable are those in the 5th and 6th grades, to begin showing by word and deeds that their parents could benefit from guidance in disciplining their youngsters. Parental involvement is the key factor in dealing with children who don't know how to control their behavior in school or in the neighborhood.

Our village tolerates different kinds of life styles. But as Deputy Chief Scianna stated, "criminal activity is unacceptable!"

Sylvia Bumiller
Oak Park

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