A Closer Look at Increase in Crime, Part 2

According to local law enforcement, a number of the crimes in recent weeks have been committed by adolescents.

Many of these these young people are repeat offenders between 13 and 17-years-old.

So, what's the problem? That's a question that many, including a local child psychologist, are trying to answer.

Dr. Lee Lee Marlow said she's not surprised by the recent surge in crimes committed by local youth.

As director of Children & Youth Services for Weems Mental Health Center, Dr. Marlow says at some point in the past, many of the accused have been her clients.

"They don't really care that they're detained," said Marlow. "They know it's for a short period of time."

Marlow says because youth get so many rights while being detained, for many, this type punishment is no longer a deterrent.

"I do know that some young people here have been told by various people, whether it's the law or through advocacy programs that, 'You have these rights. Nobody can take these rights away from you.' For example snacks or fast food or things that some people advocate, even when they're locked up, children need those sorts of things. I tend to think those are privileges that have to be earned."

When it comes to many of the crimes committed by youth, Dr. Marlow says often an adult is the first to encourage a young person to do such things, because the punishment for people under age 18 is less severe.

"Somebody's benefiting from it or it wouldn't be happening," she said. "So, we have to look at it and say, 'What are they benefiting?'"

For some, Marlow says the benefit is feeling accepted and part of something, even if it's a gang.

"I think we can stick our heads in the sand and say we don't have gangs and all live happy like that's not our problem, but I think what we're seeing now is that it is our problem." Marlow said.


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