Special Report: Local pastors, community leaders say family values are key to decreasing Chicago crime

Father's Day puts the focus not only on dads, but also on the importance of family and family values.

Several Cook County pastors and community leaders say this is key to decreasing violence on Chicago streets.

A Chicago mother, who didn't want to be identified, says she knows just how rough the streets of Chicago can be. 

'I can count on my hand at least 30 young men I know who got killed," the mother said. 

She is doing everything she can to help keep her children and others in the neighborhood on the straight and narrow.


"I let them know about what happened in the family. I let them know about the friends that they grew up with," the mother said. "And no matter what you try to tell them, the people doing it, or try to talk to your family members or anything, some of them just don't listen."

So far this year, at least 144 children and teens have been shot in Chicago.

Seven-year-old Jaslyn Adams was killed in a shooting in April this year at a McDonald's on the city's West Side. 

"Please put the guns down. Our kids wanna play. My kids can't even go out the door," said Tawny McMullen, Jaslyn's aunt.

"Every parent that took a child to McDonald's to get something to eat - not get some bullets! To the shooter: why? Why? If you have any kids, have you ever took your kids to McDonald's?" said Community Activist Andrew Holmes. 

Kayden Swann was just 21-months-old when he was shot in the head.

Police say he was in a vehicle during an apparent road-rage incident in April.

MORE: No bail for man charged in road-rage shooting of Kayden Swann on Lake Shore Drive

"Much of the violence we see in Chicago is about the gang cultures revenge, retaliation and street justice. street justice will never yield peace," said Chicago Police Supt. David Brown.

Congressman Danny Davis is part of a group of community leaders and pastors who believe focusing on family values can help curb street violence. 

"So the value piece starts at home," said Congressman Davis. "Once outside the home, if values are not implemented in the beginning, it is hard to convince a child that something is appropriate or inappropriate that was not talked about at the beginning."


It's a message they've been trying to get Chicagoans to listen to, and now they're trying again.

"Family value begins with a person acknowledging that his life is value," said Deacon James Crowder, Jr.

"It is our job as families to protect them the right way. The right way is to love them the correct way," said Community Activist Derek Brown.

This means older family members should talk to the younger ones about guns and the impact they can have on family members who aren't even involved in a gang. 

"I know its hard to say not to come around, but if they come around violence comes with them,  it brings danger to the family, and to all of those in the vicinity," said Pastor Floyd James from the Greater Rock MB Church.

"Family values is one of the resources that we want to be able to teach them how to mediate conflicts," said Rev. Robin Hood from Redeemed Outreach Ministries. 

"We have people we call big momma - usually those individuals have influence over those persons," said Pastor James. "If we can have them have the conversations with their loved ones or family members, then we can help stop or resolve some of the issues."

Once the family lines of communication are open, the pastors say its important to keep them open and not keep any secrets.

"Having that relationship, and making each other feel comfortable … ‘Hey, I got caught up in some things, I need your help,'" said Pastor Tracey Lee from Reach Church.

However, some kids don't want to listen. 

For those who aren't the pastors have this to say:

"To you who are living this lifestyle, what we are asking, and I’m pleading with you – in fact, I’m begging – be mindful.  If you’re in a situation where you are targeted individuals, please, please don’t put your family, who have not made that choice to live that lifestyle, in danger," said Pastor Richard Redmond from the Greater Rock MB Church. "You are the one that can save them."

MORE: Woman killed, 2 injured, including 15-year-old boy, in Back of the Yards shooting

In the first weekend of June alone, over 50 people were shot - five died. 

"We need to start respecting each other in the Black community, nobody else is gonna respect us until we respect ourselves," one West Side resident said. 

After living in Chicago for more than 40 years, the Chicago mother who doesn't want to be identified has a few ideas of her own about how to help solve this problem. 

"Its hard out here for these young men. Some of them want to do right. Some of them can't because they think that's the only way out," the mother said. "Its no more programs really out here. A lot of things been closed up, you know, for these youth to go, these children to go. Value your life."

With the number of daily shootings in Chicago usually in the double digits, pastors and leaders say the following list could help reduce crime:

  • Have honest discussions with family members about using guns to resolve conflict.
  • Encourage family members who are using guns to stop
  • Explain the danger that comes to loved ones when other family members use guns to resolve conflict
  • Explain how loved ones become unintended targets when seen with targeted family members.
  • Targeted family members should consider avoiding public sighting with innocent loved ones, including outside family gatherings, riding in cars and sitting on porches.
  • Elders of families should be firm about family members use of guns to lessen the possibility of danger coming to their family's doorstep.
  • Finally, explain to all family members the dangers of keeping secrets of wrongdoing of any family member from the family unit. Remember the value of the family unit is greater than any one family member.

If you would like more information, or have a question for one of the pastors, you can contact them through their website at www.mediaeditinggroup.com.