Drugs, crime can mar futures

Everyone reading this article has at least one thing in common; we were all children at some point in our lives.

For some, it was 30 years ago, others maybe 50 years ago, yet some might still consider themselves a child at heart or striving to have the faith of a child.

The point I’m trying to make is that we are now the future. We are living in what our parents and grandparents worked so very hard to make fruitful, and what we must remember is now we are responsible for the future of today’s children.

The past few decades in America have shown a disturbing trend when it comes to crimes committed by juveniles.

Juvenile delinquency has become a problem of epic proportions. From petty theft to school shootings, it seems that children have become a major focus of law enforcement officials when attempting to control crime. Many people blame this problem on society, drugs, parents and peers.

According to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, there were a reported 194,064 total drug cases among juveniles in 1998. Of that number, 164,747 were males.

Since then, we’ve seen an approximate 10 percent decrease in drug-related crimes in males. In reviewing crime trends, law enforcement always likes to see reductions at any level, but here in Shelby County, we must stay diligent in preventing the first crime from occurring.

Some of the nationally recognized programs that we can offer in our schools include McGruff the Crime Dog, school resource officers and Drug Awareness Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.).

These programs intend to educate juveniles on criminal resistance but for some reason are some of the first programs to suffer from fund reduction and a lack of resources.

Once a child gets involved in the criminal element, much more has to be done to deter this sort of behavior.

The penal system is nothing more than a training ground for criminals, and many young people see the life of a criminal as liberating and profitable. Some may be surprised to know that a child in the fifth grade probably knows more about marijuana, pills and alcohol than many adults do.

We must all be advocates of drug and alcohol awareness programs, traditional family values and the overall safety in our schools. After all, the children are the future.

Capt. Christopher George is a commander in the Criminal Investigations Division of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office.