S.O.S. in Action: Save Our School Children

S.O.S. in Action: Save Our School Children

Save Our School Children (S.O.S.) Program

The S.O.S. Program is designed for youth who have contact with the law or are at  risk  for delinquency. S.O.S. is a school-based service with goals to prevent youth violence and reduce  recidivism by using developmentally appropriate and culturally relevant interventions so youth can focus on their studies and build a stonger foundation for their future.

S.O.S. Program Approach
The S.O.S. Program uses a three-pronged approach:

  1. Youth Development
  2. Parent Empowerment
  3. Community Outreach and Support

Youth Development
Youth development is a strength-based approach used to increase protective factors (e.g., positive self-image, peer refusal skills, positive attitude towards school) and reduce risk factors (e.g., substance abuse, rule breaking behavior, mental illness). Interventions are aimed to promote self-awareness about the sources of anger, sadness, and anxiety; improve ability to cope; and manage the demands of daily life in a non-violent way. Youth also gain skills to enter the world of work sufficiently prepared.

Parent Empowerment
Efforts to empower parents operate on the recognition that parents are the cornerstone of their child’s life. Services aim to better equip parents to advocate for the needs of their children for quality education and mental health services.

Community Outreach and Support
Youth engage in the community through mass media activities targeted at violence prevention.  The goal is to help youth better identify their connection to the larger community and the reality that they can effect positive change.

Another aspect of Community Outreach and Support include preventative wraparound services to engage youth in pro-social activities, mental health services, and to provide financial sources to reduce barriers to success (e.g., books, supplies, payment of recreation fees, transportation to and from pro-social events).

Unique Features

  • Multi-leveled approach that engages the youth, the youth’s parents, the youth’s teachers, and community
  • Interventions target conditions that give rise to anger, anxiety, and aggression
  • Interventions use a developmental approach to help youth gain the competencies in judgment, future orientation, and moral maturity to make safe, healthy choices during adolescence
  • Interventions are gender specific and tailored to the unique needs of male and female teens respectively

S.O.S. Program Structure
Weekly youth workshops take place in the school within targeted areas

  • Life skills such as moral development, interpersonal skill development, self-management, legal advocacy, and citizenship
  • Job readiness skills training that includes resume writing, job interviewing, job maintenance, career planning, and financial literacy
  • Job shadowing including hands on experience at the workplace in a wide range of settings
  • Literacy training that includes conflict resolution development through reflection and readings that illustrate the life and dilemmas of urban youth and the transition to adulthood
  • Media Campaign that includes the creation of antiviolence public service announcements, posters, and billboards

Routine outreach and support with parents

  • Parent advocacy workshops to help them navigate systems of gatekeepers of the legal, education, and mental health system
  • Case management that links parents to community resources, includes home visits, and includes accompanying parents to school meetings
  • Parent training which includes behavior management training and family strengthening planning

Community engagement activities

  • Stop-the-Violence event media campaign
  • School newspaper
  • Fundraising to support victims, survivors, and families of youth impacted by violence

Professional development

  • Teacher support and consultation in behavior management

Article in The Chicago Crusader

S.O.S. was featured in an article in early August 2013 describing the S.O.S. program, Dr. Hoy-Watkins’ and her students’ efforts, and the program’s impact on youth. The full article can be found here.

Dr. Michelle Hoy-Watkins’ Interview on Go Shorty
September 1, 2011

Dr. Michelle Hoy-Watkins, creator of the S.O.S. program, was interviewed by Go Shorty, a South Side Chicago resource for “culture, education, employment, health and young people.”

Visit the Go Shorty website for more information and to listen to the interview.

S.O.S. Anti-Violence Art Competition
April 22, 2010

S.O.S. Town Hall Meeting
December 2, 2009

The Chicago School Forensic Center hosted a Town Hall meeting for the Save Our School Children (S.O.S.) Program on December 2, 2009. The event brought togehter over 100 attendees from Chicago Public School students, parents, educators, concerned citizens, and community leaders to discuss problems in connection to Chicago’s youth and formulate a plan to reduce youth violence.

Tonya Francisco
Anchor & Reporter
CLTV Morning News
Guest Panelists
Carmen Casas
Senior Deputy Chief Probation Officer
Cook County Juvenile Court Probation Department
Judge Patrick E. McGann
Presiding Judge
Circuit Court, County Division, Cook County
Ronald Holt
Chicago Police Officer
Blair Holt Alliance
Khaldun Everage
Chicago Public Schools, Student Engagement & Community Outreach Manager
Regional Safety Facilitator, Gang Specialist
Mark J. Walsh
Field Director
Illinois Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence
Cynthia Quintana
Thomas Kelly High School Student
Willie Round
Thomas Kelly High School Student
Kyle Bailey
Kenwood Academy High School Student

Tonya Francisco, Anchor and Reporter CLTV Morning News, moderated the S.O.S. Town Hally Meeting.

Students from Thomas Kelly High School’s Communication Department filmed the event. This footage will be used to produce the 1st S.O.S. promotional video as part of an anti-violence campaign.

Carmen Casas, Senior Deputy Chief Probation Officer Cook County Juvenile Court Probation Department and Judge Patrick E. McGann, Presiding Judge Circuit Court, County Division, Cook County, were two of  many panelists that discussed issues surrounding youth violence, contributing factors, and possible solutions.