Pubdate: Sun, 30 Jul 2000
Source: Journal Gazette (IN)
Copyright: 2000 Journal Gazette
Contact:  600 W. Main Street, Ft. Wayne, IN. 46802
Fax: (219) 461-8648


Huntington's increase in juvenile crime requires a cautious, thoughtful
response to a problem that has produced denial or hysteria in some other

Drugs and guns have been finding their way into the hands of youngsters in
rural communities for some time now. The arrest of a 12-year-old boy on
charges of dealing cocaine may have jolted Huntington, but it's a
regrettably familiar story in other parts of the nation.

The responses in other communities hold some important lessons for
Huntington on how to contain the growing problems with alcohol and narcotics
among its youngsters.

The good news is that there are proven, effective programs that can be
established at manageable costs. One starting place is the Center for the
Study of the Prevention of Violence, a research center at the University of
Colorado that has compiled a list of 10 programs that have successfully
contained youthful violence and misconduct in places where they've been
tried. (The center's Web site is Some of
the programs, such as Big Brothers and Big Sisters, are well-known names.
Others - Quantum Opportunities and Multisystemic Therapy - sound more
exotic, but have nonetheless compiled excellent track records.

Any of these programs emphasizing treatment and prevention hold more promise
than a fearful response that relies heavily on punishment and intimidation.
Too many other communities plagued with juvenile crime have veered off into
witch hunts that turn any kid with a strange haircut or odd collection of
clothing into a suspected criminal. Heavy-handed overreaction will alienate
the innocent while doing little to improve the behavior of hardcore
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