Chicago Public School Students Shot This School Year Highest Since 2008

While fatalities from gun violence are down this year among Chicago Public School students, the number of young people shot during the 2011-12 academic year is up nearly 22 percent from last year, the highest number of students wounded by firearms in the last four years.

The Chicago Tribune reports that before the school year ended on June 15, 24 students had been fatally shot and 319 students were wounded by gunfire. That's four fewer fatalities than the 2010-11 school year, according to police data obtained by the newspaper.

That spike mirrors a rise in homicides and gun-related violence across the city, where the murder rate this year has nearly doubled the number of U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan over the same period.

Homicides are up 38 percent in Chicago from a year ago, with 66 more deaths as of June 17 than recorded in that same period in 2011, mostly from gunfire, according to the New York Times.

It's no secret that violence in Chicago has always been amplified by rising temperatures; in a 2010 interview, CeaseFire Illinois Director Tio Hardiman told HuffPost Chicago that the gang members in the city are always thinking violently, but "when the weather gets warmer, people see the person they're after on the street corner."

With that in mind, the school district kicked off its second annual "Safe Haven, Safe Summer" program Monday, a partnership with 60 area churches that runs through August 3, giving roughly 2,000 CPS students safe places to play and structured activities to keep them off the streets this summer, ABC Chicago reports.

(See video above for more on the "Safe Haven, Safe Summer" program.)

Despite these and other efforts, gun violence continues to plague the city, with Chicago Public Schools students often caught in the crossfire. Two of the four shooting fatalities reported last weekend involved victims younger than 18.

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