Youth violence on the increase

Juvenile crime takes shape in an increased number of robberies, assaults and murders.

Juvenile crime in Minneapolis became a focal point in the last major state election. After the election, lawmakers addressed the issue, but it might be time for them to look again.

Earlier this week, a 16-year-old was shot and killed on a Metro Transit bus. The alleged shooter is only 17 years old. The week before, two adults were mugged in an alley while walking home from a bar in north Minneapolis. Police said that after the two were robbed, they were shot in the head, execution style. The suspects in this crime are ages 15 and 19.

Accounts like these speak to the severity of youth violence, but we know the problem runs much deeper than this. Juvenile crime has been on the increase for several years now, and it takes shape in an increased number of robberies, assaults, and murders. Not all incidents make the headlines, but they still occur. It’s natural to expect that the two examples above are not isolated incidents of our juvenile crime problem.

To be fair, Minneapolis has taken steps in the right direction. The Hennepin County Attorney’s office has formed a unit that focuses on the prosecution of gangs – a huge component in the influx of juvenile crime. Additionally, the city has restored the juvenile-crime unit that was disbanded a few years back. They focus on things like curfew and truancy violations, in addition to outstanding warrants.

Steps like these aim to decrease the crime in Minneapolis, but they’re not enough on their own. Mayor Rybak acknowledges this point, too. He has focused more on community involvement programs and recreation activities for youth. By teaming up with other organizations and ramping up community involvement with the youth, he seeks to curb the trend.

In the end, we must look at the issue as a whole. Kids look up to their older peers, and there’s something to be said for this. Having solid role models is a big part of reducing juvenile crime, but so is funding crime units and youth programs.

The juvenile crime unit was disbanded because of budget issues. But why cut money here? If we are to spend money at all, let us at least invest it.