A Closer Look at Increase in Crime, Part 3

There has been a series of crimes involving juvenile suspects, some not yet in their teens.

So whose to blame for people this young getting in this kind of trouble?

Newscenter 11 continues a discussion with a local child psychologist who has studied youth behavior.

Dr. Lee Lee Marlow, who heads the Children and Adolescent Division for Weems Mental Health Center, says pointing the finger of blame is a waste of time and energy.

"We know we can call a plumber to unstop our drain, but yet the plumber didn't cause the problem," said Marlow. "So, I think we've got to look and say what are the people we can turn to, to help solve these problem?"

According to Marlow, parents are a good place to start. However, she says many are ill-equipped.

"A lot of times we allow parents to teach things that they didn't learn themselves," Marlow said.

That's why Marlow says teaching parents is so important. Currently, her agency offers free parenting classes to parents once a week during or after regular business hours.

Weems has also teamed with local government entities, the Meridian Public School District, MCC and other community agencies such as Love's Kitchen to provide a program called, Making a Change, or MAC.

The program is for MPSD students who are expelled or on the verge of getting expelled from school. Although it provides transportation and food for participants, participation has been low.

"It's not that we need more programs," said Marlow. "We have programs. It's getting these youth involved in these programs. Effort, motivation, time and personal investment is what's needed. Money won't fix this problem."

Although community efforts are key in curbing the juvenile crime problem, Dr. Marlow says the role of parents is even more important.

"When your newscast comes on at 10:00 and it asks, 'Parents do you know where your children are?' At that moment in time there are an awful lot of parents who don't know where their children are, but they don't know what to do about it. We as parents have to remember that until our kids turn 18," said Marlow.

There has been an increase in felony crime for youth in Meridian in the last three months:

August - no felony arrests
September - 4 arrests
October - 16 arrests