YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — This week in our In-Depth segment, WKBN Community Affairs Director Dee Crawford spoke with Mahoning County Judge Theresa Dellick on juvenile court existence funding.
“We provide services for any youth from birth to age 18 up to 21. We also address child support issues, paternity issues, custody issues. Any child born out of wedlock….(the) case comes to juvenile court. We also deal with offenses against youth. So if someone is endangering a youth or contributing to their delinquency those cases come to juvenile court. Many people think of juvenile court just as being the delinquency aspect. But we also deal with all the abuse-dependent, neglected children of our community, too. So it has a very wide breadth and just say anything dealing with youth from birth to age 18, up to 21 comes to juvenile court,” said Dellick.
We’re seeing an increase in violence against and by juveniles. Everyone saw the lull during COVID, but where we are now into the middle of 2022 Dellick shared her thoughts about the summer and programming for youth.
“Number one during COVID, we saw a decrease. Everyone was locked up after that. Last year we saw an increase. It’s leveling off in our community and across the state. That’s what we’re seeing from contact with all the juvenile courts and the Ohio Department of Youth Services. That it is leveling off. It’s not continuing to increase which is good news. But what we’re seeing is we may be in for a bit of a ride this summer. It’s hard to predict, but I do know there is a lot of organized law enforcement efforts to do what they can. But personally, I think that until we deal with the underlying trauma in so many of these lives, we’re never going to get our hands wrapped around it and control the issue,” said Dellick.
Being one of eight counties, Dellick shared where we stand within the numbers — are we within the highest percentage or within the lowest percentage of violence against juveniles?
“We’re lower and I can attribute that to the cooperation we have among all the agencies and government offices. There’s a lot of cooperation here in Mahoning County, down in Columbus is known as being a very collaborative community, and I believe that’s one of the reasons we do not have the violence that you see in the major cities. Even in our detention facilities. It’s different here. I mean, we have the same high level of crimes, but not to the extent and the number,” said Dellick.
Tuesday, we’ll talk about the major underlying mental health issues the juvenile court tries to address.