LEE COUNTY, Ala. (WTVM) - With the recent arrest of a 20-year-old who allegedly murdered a Hurtsboro man on Dec. 30, many in the community are left asking why and some are concerned that it seems so many violent crimes are being committed by young people.
Some data shows serious violent crime committed by juveniles has dramatically decreased nationally since the 1990′s.
For some, violence in our community seems pervasive, especially when it comes to youth violence.
“There’s been so much Facetime, so much video-gaming, that when they encounter and engage with people in real time, they don’t have a problem pulling out a knife or a gun as if it were a joystick,” Laura Cooper, the executive director of the Lee County Youth Development Center, said.
You may remember several juveniles in the area charged with serious crimes recently.
Police believe 17-year-old Dequarius Richardson and a 16-year-old are responsible for a New Years Day murder in Columbus.
Authorities say 16-year-old Ross McFarland shot and killed his father’s fiance in Auburn back in October.
And according to police, one child shot and killed another in Phenix City in the same month.
“Back in the day we didn’t hear about a lot of violence, but now there’s so much of it,” Daffin Hudson, an area resident, said.
But while it seems there is one example of youth violence after the next, according to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, violent crime among youth is down dramatically across the country. In 1993, there were 52 juveniles per 1,000 who committed serious violent crimes. In 2016, just 7.3 per 1,000 juveniles.
Some experts say they have seen a different trend here locally.
“Over the course of the last ten years, I’ve really seen an escalation in serious physical crimes,” Cooper said.
But Cooper said the best way to decrease crime is to increase positive opportunities.
“The Lee County Youth Development Center is just one example,” she said. “We’ve got the Boys and Girls club, we’ve got East Alabama Mental Health. We try to pool those resources to meet those emerging needs of the children.”
For more information on how you can get involved, click here.