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Tied down due to circumstances: Parenting on Chicago’s South Side

1974 photo of elderly corpse being removed from a murder scene on the 1900 block of North Clark Street.
1974 photo of elderly corpse being removed from a murder scene on the 1900 block of North Clark Street.Chicago Tribune News

Unless one grows up on the dangerous streets of Chicago’s South Side, they could not possible understand the circumstances which rule the streets there. Once having interviewed a previous South Side resident, the grizzly details of four decades ago became evident. Are things worse today than when this man grew up there? Statistics will provide that answer.

Just last weekend, during the July 4th holiday weekend, lat Thursday, July 3rd until early Monday, July 7th, 82 people were shot on the streets of Chicago; 14 of those individuals were fatalities. This brought the total number of homicides to 185 in the first half of 2014 alone.

Comparatively speaking, however, this is nothing compared to the violence experienced in 1974 when 970 homicides occurred that year. According to the website, it only took 80 minutes into the New Year for the first homicide to occur. It was no wonder that this man has such a skewed vision on life and that his days of gang violence, drinking and drugs did not take his life. Somehow he managed to escape and is still alive to tell about it even though he had been shot and stabbed, some violence taking place multiple times in his life.

Parents caught up in living in areas of concern either tend to ignore or acquiesce to the threats of the streets. Many single mothers or even two-parent working families do not have the means to provide their child with a sitter, much less a nanny or an au pair like parents in wealthy areas of the city and suburbs do. The mothers here cannot possibly make the decision to be stay-at-home mothers either!

Many times kids are left to their own devices once they are old enough to look after themselves and/or their siblings. This is where trouble abides – and continues even after the parent or parents get home as they may work long hours or multiple jobs just to get by.

In poorer areas of the United States, drinking, drugs and gun violence have become the norm. In large cities, the added threat of gang violence takes effect. In many circumstances, when a child joins a gang, they are simply looking for a ‘home’ of sorts; a place where they belong and people that they can call ‘family.’

Parenting in seemingly ‘hopeless’ situations must be difficult. Those stuck in these areas are left wondering if becoming a parent was wise for even if they are able to keep their kids off the streets, it is no guarantee that their child will not be in the wrong place at the wrong time and end up in a bad situation – or worse, dead because of it.

There has to be something done in order for parents and children in hostile areas to feel as though this life has not already been decided for them. Statistics prove that things have gotten better over the past four decades. We just need to find even more improvement from there!