— Actions and events that can change and destroy a young life.
Poor decision making skills. Peer Pressure. Lack of positive influence.
— Skills that can be taught or Causes that can be corrected.
When I started this article, I wanted to find some answers. What I found was some great news. But I also found that we have a long way to go.
A “juvenile” is anyone who is single and under the age of 18. Depending on the offense and the cognizance of the juvenile, they can sometimes be tried as an adult. In the 2010 census, 19.8% of our population falls into the under 18 age group. That number is projected to have risen by 3.5% in 2015. This means that there are 131,220 youth in Brevard under the age of 18 – and 22% or 26,000 of all Brevard juveniles live in poverty.*
Thanks to the “Roadmap to System Excellence” developed and implemented by the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, juvenile delinquency in Florida dropped 32% from 1997 to 2010. And according to updated numbers, in the last five years, Florida has experienced a 34% decline in arrests involving juveniles. School-based delinquency has also declined dramatically; over the last eight years, there has been a 50% decrease. The number of youth offenders in Florida transferred to adult court declined 14% in 2013, and has gone down 44% since 2007, according to the “KIDS COUNT Reducing Incarceration in the United States” report.
In Brevard County, the number of students placed in a residential facility declined 58% in the last five years from 315 to 131, and the number of students referred to Department of Juvenile Justice residential facilities in Brevard declined 66%, from 220 to 75 in that same period. It is important to note that 11.5% of all charges in Brevard County are for Juvenile Delinquency. In 2014, 1,655 Juvenile complaints were filed, 46 were direct filed to adult court. **
In a 2013 interview, Florida Department of Juvenile Justice Secretary, Wansley Waters talked about the “Roadmap” and stated, “This is not only a victory for Florida families – these improvements are the result of hard work on the part of Florida’s parents, educators, law enforcement officials, judiciaries, community leaders, juvenile justice stakeholders and the youth themselves. I want to emphasize that this is just the beginning. We are constantly developing new partnerships and looking for ways to identify at-risk before they get in trouble, as well as helping those who are already in the system avoid getting any deeper. Today’s findings are just a small glimpse of what Floridians should expect to see moving forward.” Watch her video about the “Roadmap” below.
This means that in order to keep these numbers declining it is going to take our “village” working together to make a difference and provide the programs necessary to help our youth. This chart shows the requirements on state and local levels needed to sustain and lower juvenile incarcerations (as reported by JDAI in 2014). ***
There is a huge need here in Brevard County to teach and train our youth in life skills, good decision making, staying off drugs, and being good citizens. We also need lots of volunteers to mentor our youth, to provide examples of good leadership, an understanding shoulder, to be an encouragement to follow their dreams and to see the possibilities.
In real numbers, there are approximately 560,000 people living in Brevard as of 2015. Of that total, 49% or 274,400 are male, 11% or 30,184 of those males are of Black or African decent, and 19.8% or 5,976 of those are under 18.* Will you help?
I AM PROOF is proud to be a part of the solution in providing life skills training for boys ages 11 to 18 here in Brevard. We are excited to be a part of changing lives every day – and making a difference in our community, one life at a time.
To find out more about I AM PROOF or to register or get involved in our program, please click here.
To find out more about this program and how you can get involved, we’ve included some links and downloads that will help you understand the issues, and outcomes available to our youth.
If you enjoyed this article, please feel free to share it with others.
To view all of the FL Dept of Juvenile Justice videos in this series, visit this link.
Click to download a copy of the “Roadmap To System Excellence.”
Here is a copy of the Report on Reducing Youth Incarceration in the US, by the Annie E Casey Foundation.
*** And another report entitled, 2014 Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative Progress Report.
No Place for Kids – The Case for Reducing Juvenile Incarceration, which offers a full download of the report.