There is no shortage of visibility on crime in Chicago. There have been 571 murders in the city  this year alone. In response to a surge in violent crimes, the Chicago Police Department increased their numbers by nearly 1000 officers last year. 45 has also been very vocal in advocating for a tougher stance on crime in the city of Chicago.

While much focus and resources have been invested into punitive measures to combat Chicago's "crime problem," a 16-year-old program that implements mentoring and group therapy sessions for young men in the city, has taken a more proactive approach to saving lives. The program called Becoming a Man (BAM) - which operates in dozens of Chicago schools- aims to help young men learn impulse control and avoid the kind of reflexive anger that leads to violence and death.

Endorsed by Barack Obama, BAM and its sister program -Working on Womanhood - use a social and emotional learning model to provide kids in high-crime, poor neighborhoods mechanisms to cope as well as the tools needed to think calmly through tough situations. Researchers at the University of Chicago Crime Lab confirmed that the BAM program has reduced boys’ violent crime arrests by 50 percent and increased their high school graduation rates by 19 percent.

  Photo: Mark Peterson/Redux Pictures


Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been a BAM supporter since 2013 when he first sat in on a BAM session. “The counselors stepped into a pair of shoes that hadn’t been filled for these young men,” Emanuel told POLITICO. “It’s something I take for granted because I still talk to my father every day. You don’t realize how important it is, because it’s more implicit than explicit until you see how young men thirst for it and the void that gets filled for them.”

We love to see positive programs such as this happening in black communities for our youth. After all, the children are the future.