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Boston By Night - Are the Streets Safe?

The news in the last month seems especially full of youth violence - from the murders in Mattapan to the national rise in bullying and teen suicides. It is hard to understand why these things happen and incredibly discouraging. I am encouraged that there are some amazing people and programs that work tirelessly to counter these actions.

Last month, I had the opportunity, along with my colleague Diane Hammer, to go on a Boston by Night tour through the Boston Foundation's Street Safe initiative recommended by SSW Associate Deans Suzanne Sankar and Sherdena Cofield, this evening gave me a closer look into what the streets can really look like and some people who really have the ability to make a difference and do so every evening. The street workers, some of them from these neighborhoods and who have been in prison themselves, are able to make a real connection with the youth in the neighborhoods. This is a respectful relationship and I was awed by the commitment and potential danger that these workers face. They are on the street from early evening to often past midnight and are available at all hours. I strongly admire the courage and dedication this takes. Sadly, they were surprised that "others' (those outside the neighborhood) cared and were interested.

Some other things I learned:

  • The "troubled" youth strongly desire for peace in their neighborhoods and work hard to maintain this.
  • They are sometimes restricted from visiting their own families because they are not allowed in certain areas and can be arrested for trespassing and loitering if they are found there.
  • The South End has one of the highest incidents of violence and that one street over from where I regularly shop and have dinner is an area tucked away that is fraught with potential violence.
  • Most violent incidents are not about gang turf these days but more about disrespect.
  • CORIs keep many youth from getting a job and instead leave them with nothing to do.
  • Most youth programs close down around 7 or 8 p.m. which leaves kids to hang out on the street after that.

I was incredibly inspired by my Boston by Night tour and think about it quite often. I think the more we can try to understand where others come from, reserve judgment and extend our willingness to lend support in whatever ways we can, will only help.

Posted by Carolyn Grimes on October 28, 2010 9:20 PM

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The Scott/Ross Center for Community Service facilitates and promotes community service and service-learning for Simmons College students, faculty and staff in Greater Boston and beyond. By developing reciprocal partnerships with community-based organizations, we enrich and expand students' educational and co-curricular experiences.