On February 16, 2017, nearly 300, sixth grade students participated in a culmination ceremony for EDGE. The EDGE or EDucation for Gang Evasion program started in Oak Lawn in 1995 and is a program designed specifically for middle school students, to help them recognize and resist pressure to engage in gang activity. EDGE is meant to compliment the DARE program students completed in fifth grade
“These programs have been a significant part of the combined efforts of law enforcement and education in our community to help our children deal with problems,” according to the Village of Oak Lawn.
During the second trimester, students learned many new things about the dangers of gangs. They received safety tips and strategies to use to avoid being targets for gang activity, given factual information about the dangers of gang affiliation. Students are also exposed to problem solving and decision making skills and that they will be held accountable for their actions should they get involved in illegal activity. They also have the chance to explore concepts relating to violence and conflict resolution in addition to learning meditation techniques as an alternative to physical confrontation.
Oak Lawn Police officers taught students they have a voice in the community and can help keep the neighborhood safe. At graduation, multiple students shared their perspective on how the program impacted them and why they choose to lead a drug and gang free lifestyle.
“The more knowledge we have about gangs and their destructive behavior, the better our chances in keeping our neighborhoods gang-free. Programs such as EDGE promote the education necessary to keep our kids safe and our Village prosperous,” according to the Village of Oak Lawn.
The Chicago Crime Commission has targeted gangs as Public Enemy #1, citing the ever increasing proliferation of gang activity in not only Chicago, but in suburban Cook County and the collar counties as well.