Earlier this month, a 16-year-old male suspect was arrested and charged in the shooting death of a local high school student. Additionally, warrants have been issued for two more Shelby County teens (ages 17 and 15), both of whom will be charged with first-degree murder (Dudding, 2009).
Unfortunately, too many children in our community commit criminal acts and become involved in the justice system. In 2006, the number of Shelby County Juvenile Court referrals exceeded 14,000+ (Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2006).
The Future of Children recently released a paper that provides a review of promising practices designed to prevent juvenile crime. Cost-effective primary prevention designs include the Nurse Home Visitation Program and the Perry Preschool Program, both interventions designed to enhance parenting skills and inspire families to maximize their child’s social, cognitive and language development during a child’s first years of life. Both programs have been found to reduce delinquency rates in participants throughout their lifetimes.
How can we reduce juvenile delinquency and promote pro-social development among children in our community? Implement evidence-based programs that emphasize family interactions and promote healthy brain growth and improved learning environments for vulnerable young children. To reach a preferred future for our city we must act now to invest wisely in the well-being of young children and their families.
For more information on the well-being of children in Memphis and Shelby County, please visit The Urban Child Institute webpage at: http://www.theurbanchildinstitute.org/Home; and The State of Children in Memphis & Shelby County Databook, available at: http://www.theurbanchildinstitute.org/Databook.php
The Annie E. Casey Foundation, KIDS COUNT Data Center, www.kidscount.org.
Dudding, H. (2009, March 26). 16-year-old charges in teen’s shooting death; 2 other suspects shot. The Commercial Appeal, Retrieved March 31, 2009 from http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2009/mar/26/crime-report-resident-answers-knock-door-finds-sho/
The Future of Children. (2009). Best Practices in Juvenile Justice Reform. Princeton University and The Brookings Institution. Retrieved March 31, 2009 from http://www.futureofchildren.org/newsletter2861/newsletter_show.htm?doc_id=863194