Local News

Juvenile Crime Declining? Not Everywhere!

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FAYETTEVILLE — Three Fayetteville teenagers are charged in connection with two carjackings. One of the female suspects is only 15-years-old.

Friday's arrests came on the heels of a University of North Carolina study which found that violent crimes among juveniles are on the decline. But that is not the case in Fayetteville.

The study found that US teenagers are committing fewer violent crimes than five years ago, but that's not the trend in Fayetteville From 1996 to 1997, there was a slight increase in homicides, sex offenses and robberies among juveniles there.

Fayetteville Police Lt. Sherry Sparks says the small jump is a result of annexation and the departments pro-active policy.

The city says school mentoring programs such as the Family Intervention Team (FIT) are helping combat juvenile crime, and Cumberland County says its curfew ordinance is helping. Since its inception in July, 157 minors have been picked up on truancy or curfew violations.

Over the past year, says Sheriff's Department Sgt.Marshall Ray, the county has seen a 72 percent decrease in juvenile crime.

Police say the curfew isn't enough. A new program called Community That Cares is being developed. In that program, community leaders will identify neighborhoods with children at risk and then send in mentors.

The new Juvenile Assessment Center in Cumberland County is expected to open in August.