GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - The city of Grand Rapids will release its four year juvenile offense index report today.
The report tracks the number of children ages 8-16 who have had offense-related contact with police.
Our Community's Children in partnership with GVSU produced this report that spans from January 2006- December 2009. It describes the scope, frequency and circumstances of juvenile offenses recorded by the Grand Rapids Police Department by looking at three categories:
- Juvenile crimes against persons or property
- Curfew violations and runaway behavior
- Incidents of family conflict in which police were called but no physical violence or other criminal acts were committed.
The results have been very encouraging. It notes a 19% decrease in the number of youth involved in all offenses from 2006 to 2009. It also shows a 25% decrease in the number of all types of offenses. The report reveals the majority of police contact with youth has to do with status offenses, like violating curfew and running away, and family domestic incidents. Additionally, after-school and mid-evening hours remain prime times for youth offenses.
Our Community's Children says over the past decade, it has worked to invest millions of dollars in quality afterschool programs and the report indicates it's starting to pay off.
Executive Director of Our Community's Children, Lynn Heemstra says, "We're really looking at needing to intervene with families and children much earlier to prevent kids from running away, being unsupervised, and generally getting into trouble."
Heemstra says since juvenile involvement in offenses increases dramatically between the ages of 12 and 14 across all four years of the study, afterschool programs like the loop and the loft are critical in the city.
"You can go to any public school and see an afterschool program in place for our children. Last week, during our Lights On program, in fact, there were several teenagers from all high schools actually indicating they would be in trouble if not for that program, " she says.
Heemstra also points out the importance for parental involvement in community initiatives like We Believe, We Become which works to make sure families have access to the resources to for any child to be ready for college, work, and life.
Click HERE to access the full report which will be released Thursday morning.