WACO, TX — Juvenile arrests are at a 40 year low across the nation, according to the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
Organizations like Boys and Girls Club of Waco and law enforcement agencies are working to keep these numbers low by guiding kids on the right path at an early age.
There were 696,620 youth arrests in 2019, that seems like a lot until you compare it to the 2.7 million arrests in 1996, a 74% drop.
Director of the Boys and Girls Club Waco, James Jarmon says he enjoys talking to kids and helping them where they need it.
"To reach a kid at a young age and help mold and shape them that’s part of what I love to do," Jarmon said.
Juvenile arrests for burglary, theft and arson are at their lowest levels since 1980. Thanks to the Boys and Girls Club who care for kids with their after school program, those 18 and under are under adult supervision until their parent picks them up at 6 p.m. This keeps kids off the streets.
"Being out on the streets they’re way over their head<and they can let other adults who’s out there intimidate them and pressure them into showing them hey you can get money here by stealing, robbing that ain’t the way to go," Jarmon said.
Woodway PD hosts many events throughout the year to build a relationship and have open communication with kids all over McLennan County.
"Movie nights, national night out, fourth of July parade where kids get to come out and get to meet all the officers," Assistant Chief Larry Adams said.
Assistant Chief Adams is pleased to hear that numbers are dropping. In Woodway when a juvenile is arrested it's usually for small misdemeanors like theft. When a kid does run in with the law, officers will do what they can to make better choices in the future.
"School resource officers will try to contact those children at school and begin to develop that relationship with them to kind of guide them on the right path and correcting that behavior," Assistant Chief Adams said.
Although crime has dropped in arrests related to theft and arson, juvenile arrests for murder increased by 10% between 2015 and 2019. Relative declines in arrests have been greater for boys than for girls across many offenses, with the female share of juvenile arrests growing from 18% in 1980 to 31% in 2019.
The Dobey Drop-In Center is another organization helping young adults. This is for those 18-24 experiencing homelessness.
They opened their doors March 1, 2021 and have be working with 2-4 people a day. Between helping them receive their GED, apply for assistance programs and even college there is a need that this center is filling the gap for.
Nicole Wiscombe, project director of the Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program with the Heart of Texas MHMR says the center is helping them transition into adulthood.
"They're able to still access under 18 services and over 18 services and learn how to bridge from one to the next," Wiscombe said.
The Dobey Center is open Monday-Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and also have after hour services available.