By Nova Safo, CNN
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(CNN) - The city of Chicago is grappling with how to respond to a strange event on a recent weekend afternoon, when hundreds of teens suddenly took over part of the city's downtown. There were fights among the teens, a reported assault on a passerby, and other disturbances. The local media dubbed it a violent teen "flash mob."
The incident alarmed residents, and some city officials, including Alderman Brendan Reilly who represents the area where the violence occurred. Reilly quickly called for a more visible police presence, and for businesses to be able to hire off-duty police officers as private security. The alderman believes the stakes are high for Chicago:
[2:52] “We’re out there aggressively recruiting new conventions to come here to town, we’re reaching out to visitors around the world, marketing this beautiful, great, safe city. But that’s harder to do, when you have negative headlines suggesting that it may not be safe to be in the central core.”
But simply adding more police may not be a complete solution, based on recent research co-authored by Brian Houston, who is an assistant professor of communication at the University of Missouri.
His research was conducted after violent episodes of mass teen gatherings in Kansas City. And the solutions he came up with are being adopted by the city, with encouraging signs that it may be working.
To find out the details of Houston’s research, learn more about the teen ‘flash mob’ phenomenon, and what can be done about it, please listen to our story above.