Every day, America receives news involving a variety of crimes, ranging from minor theft to murder. Yet in between the spectrum of all crimes in the country lies juvenile crime, a topic well-known to the public but also of critical importance. Many state courts have difficulty determining proper penalties for juveniles who commit crimes, and the initial reason for committing the crime often goes overlooked. As for Virginia and teen offenses against the law, what can be said of the generally recent surge in violent crimes in certain areas of the state?
An article in WSLS News focuses on the recent arrest of 20 Virginia teenagers who committed violent and serious crimes. Occurring at Richmond public schools and surrounding areas, the crimes included arson, in which the suspects set fire to a former local high school, and burglary at pawn shops. In addition, all suspects were involved in a break-in at Lynchburg Arms and Indoor Shooting Range in Campbell County. Many are quick to villianize juveniles, and while such violent behavior is unlawful, there are a variety of factors that can drive teenagers to carry out crimes. One reason could simply be that more people are reporting the crimes to law enforcement, but others point toward general boredom that can take place over summer breaks. Peer pressure and thrill-seeking could also be to blame, but the two could ultimately arise from deeper, underlying behavioral and psychological issues.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch is also curious as to why such violent crimes have been occurring in the state, highlighting recent crimes taking place in the city’s public housing communities. The juvenile crimes in the 450-unit public housing complex include the murder of two Virginia teens in April, the killing of a Virginia State Police special agent in May and a number of other shootings and killings. While the aforementioned underlying issues could also be at play within these violent acts, gang violence is the driving force behind most of these crimes. Yet most of the children involved can only trace reasons for such crimes to strings of previous conflicts in which they had no hand, and the tradition is only gaining traction. While juvenile crimes are a common occurrence in America, the gang violence in this Virginia area goes largely unnoticed and underreported.