Some high school students are taking on youth violence themselves. A South Side high school classroom is full on a recent day off from school.
Teenagers from all over Chicago got up early for this Youth Activism conference, gathering for discussions and workshops, some of which were aimed at giving them tools to be peacemakers in their schools and communities.
Leading a session called Peace Strategies, community organizer Justin Richardson tells the students that rather than accepting the violence all around them, they should start doing something about it, using nonviolent strategies.
"As nonviolent practitioners, as people who understand types and levels of nonviolence, you have to say to yourself, 'How do I make violence uncomfortable? How do I make people react to violence in a way that they will want to stop violence because it's uncomfortable?' Not just to the people fighting, but the people watching the fighting going on."
Richardson also shows them how to better recognize the types and levels of conflict. Understanding how conflict starts can help them keep the peace, he says.
"It's gonna take a lot of work," says 18-year-old Armani Bell. The senior at Wendell Phillips High School in Chicago is one of several students who called the workshop worthwhile.
"It all starts on the street," says Bell. "You might have a couple of kids who [are] not having a good day, and they come at you and they be saying, 'You bump me on purpose.' They don't let stuff go, and that's something that kids will have to work on, including myself. Kids will have to work on that and learn how to work their problem out instead of just fighting."