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68 Blocks: Life, death, hope: Part 4 of 5

Pushing back against the tide

Mayhem has a kind of momentum; it can be exhausting to resist. In Bowdoin-Geneva, an anticrime effort flops. And Big Nate explodes. But the peace festival rocks, and a son in jail has started to pray.

The Globe surveyed a sample of youths ages 11-19 in Bowdoin-Geneva about their attitudes toward school, community, and violence. The Center for Survey Research at the University of Massachusetts/Boston designed and interpreted the survey, which was supported by a grant from the Dennis A. Hunt Fund for Health Journalism at University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication. Reporters Meghan E. Irons and Maria Cramer interviewed youths in the area about the results of the survey.
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"There is a lot of motivation because we're in the 'hood where there is a lot of violence. That just makes us want to work harder to get out of the hood so that we can have a better future."
—Sam, 15
"Why do these kids rate their neighborhood positively in comparison to other neighborhoods? This is likely attributable to a well-known phenomenon. We rate the familiar more highly than the unfamiliar. For example, surveys show that Americans rate Congress poorly but rate their own member of Congress well."
—Philip Brenner, Senior Research Fellow at Center for Survey Research
"School is important. Without school you really can't get anywhere. Coming from Dorchester, where there is a lot of violence, it is not easy to live around here but you can make something of yourself."
—Gabriella, 16
In the past 12 months...
"It's a trend (joining a gang) … Your own will is a lot but when it's 50 on 1, 'Come on, man. Come on, man. We're all doing it.' It's like everyone else is doing it so why can't I? But you see, that one that says no it makes a huge difference because others see that they're not going to fall in that trend easy."
—Jaquan, 19
In the past 30 days...
"People probably carry guns and knives because they get bullied at school or on their way home from school, and they just want to feel safe."
—TJ, 14
Are you justified to shoot someone who...
"They want to prove the point, like they're hard or tough … If someone were to like smack your mom or like kill your mom or kind of disrespect your mom, I feel like a lot of people would get revenge on that person. I don't think no one is just going to sit there and just deal with it. I think certain people are going to get rigid and try to kill that person."
—Sam, 15
How likely is it someone will be shot for...
"Sometimes it's not even about bullying. If somebody tends to disrespect you, you want to retaliate. If you have a gun, that's what you'd use. I guess people are not really thinking when they do things."
—Jeff, 16

SOURCE: Boston Globe survey

Alvin Chang and Grant Staublin/Globe Staff

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