In January, Sharral Dean, a therapist at the Family Counseling Center of Central Georgia, was seeing about 30 young clients a week. At any given time, five to seven of them were what Dean calls “at risk” — more likely to experience violence at home, at higher risk for depression, anxiety, fighting in school and entering the juvenile justice system.
Guns are everywhere you think they’re not. Guns have been found on the floor of a movie theater and in the diaper aisle of a big box retailer. They aren’t just slid under a mattress at home or tossed up to the top shelf of a closet; they’re lying in a pile of leaves, or behind a toilet in an airport.
The mother left and two teens were alone in the house. It took the 13-year-old son 10 minutes to find the gun. It was loaded and in a bottom dresser drawer covered by one piece of clothing. It might as well have been on the fireplace mantle.
Paul Reviere is sheriff of Lincoln County, a rural area with just under 8,000 people two hours east of Atlanta. In addition to maintaining safety, he gives what he calls “50-cent tours” to out-of-towners, showing off downtown Lincolnton.
As Bill Gates famously said in his book, “The Road Ahead” (1996), “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten.”
While we have made enormous progress in many states in reducing detention numbers and closing prisons, too many youth are still spending the night behind bars. Surprisingly, New Zealand provides the United States with a helpful model for effective ways to right size our system by limiting arrests.
Dayonn Davis was 15 when he committed a crime that would get him tried in court as an adult. A Facebook sale of a pair of Oreo Nikes, priced at around $100, went sour when the Columbus, Georgia teen attempted to steal them.
In Michigan, 17-year-olds are not allowed to buy lottery tickets, get a tattoo, rent a car or hotel room or drop out of school. They can’t vote, serve on a jury or sign a legal contract either, presumably because they don’t possess the requisite maturity to make adult-level decisions. This distinction, however, is tossed out the window if a 17-year-old breaks the law. Suddenly, they are adults, facing devastating repercussions that can come with an adult conviction.