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Chicago Neighborhood Training Hair Stylists To Act As Peacekeepers

A hair salon in the Austin neighborhood. (Credit: CBS)

A hair salon in the Austin neighborhood. (Credit: CBS)

Dorothy Tucker Dorothy Tucker
Dorothy Tucker has served as a reporter for CBS 2 Chicago since 1984....
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CHICAGO (CBS) — A Chicago community so desperate to stop the surge of violence is turning to an unlikely source to bring peace to the neighborhood.

As Dorothy Tucker reports, community leaders are training barbers and beauticians to promote peace.

Flashing lights, yellow tape, bullet marking, with nearly 1900 violent incidents in the last year Austin community tops the city’s crime list. So in the basement of New Kingdom Church, they’re trying something different.

Among those talking in the circle, beauticians and barbers. They’re learning how to become peace keepers and to use their shops and salons as gathering places where teens who have conflicts can meet to work out their problems.

Cheryl Graves says that they if they resolve issues, they can prevent, “The violence from bubbling up. Some of it is true gang stuff but so much of it isn’t. You disrespected me. You went out with my girlfriend my boyfriend,” said Cheryl Graves.

Tasha Wilkerson came up with the idea of training shop owners because of their relationship with teens.

“The advantage is that most salon owners or stylist give advice anyway,” said Wilkerson.

“When they come in here, they talk about everything. They’ll sit in my chair and confess their whole life story,” said Darnell Shields.

Darnell Shields is eager to become a peace keeper. He’s being trained on how to be a better listener, to ask questions that prompt teens to talk, share their feelings and get rid of their anger.

“It’s about preventing violence and it’s about resolving issues,” said Shields.

The Community Justice For Youth Institute runs the program that’s training the peace keepers. They hope to train 30 people who will start working with teens in the neighborhood next month.