Local News

Many Factors Contribute To Teen Violence, Experts Say

Posted May 3, 2005

— A North Carolina agency that tracks teen crime says that teens under 16 years old were responsible for over 46,000 crimes in 2004.

The North Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention says the rate of crime among young people is not increasing, but because of the state's rapidly increasing population, the number of incidents is going up.

Just in Wake County, there were more than 2,500 juveniles accused of criminal activity in 2004.

Teens who see the violence firsthand say it is a problem that is not going away.

"We need more role models for the teens these days," 18-year-old Jaycee Flippen said.

Flippen lives down the street from where police believe three teenagers shot and killed a retired Raleigh teacher last week.

"I'm not going to put it all on the kids," Flippen said. "It's more of the parents. If the parents buckle down more on the kids, it will stop some of the violence and activity going on in the hood."

William Lassiter, of the N. C. Department of Juvenile Justice, says parental involvement is a big key in preventing juvenile crime, but there are other factors that contribute to violent or delinquent behavior.

"It's also mental health, it's educational problems and they all come together to cause a storm in a child that causes them to commit these really violent incidents sometimes," Lassiter said.

In many cases, Lassiter says that storm is also tied to gangs.

"There's some pressure because people will try to pressure you to join a gang and you got to make your own decision not to," said 16-year-old Terrell Stahl.

Lassiter also says one reason that it is so important to get teen violence under control is that teen criminals often grow up to be adult criminals.

According to the N.C. Department of Juvenile Justice, the majority of teen criminals -- 75 percent -- have mental health needs.

The department also said 40 percent have a family history of crime involvement and 31 percent reported domestic violence in the home within the past year.

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