Judge Says Children Slipping Through Cracks

Judge Says Children Slipping Through Cracks

Julie Steele

Chattanooga, TN – Juvenile crime has gone up and down during the past two years in Hamilton County. That's according to the Hamilton County Juvenile Court annual report, which indicates that in 2009, there were no murder charges attributed to juveniles compared to one in 2008; 373 assaults, compared to 481 in 2008; 102 aggravated assaults, compared to 89; 10 arson-related charges compared to 4; and 147 charges of possession of a controlled substance compared to 169; and 24 thefts of over 10,000 dollars compared to 4. According to Hamilton County Juvenile Court Judge Suzanne Bailey, in all, juveniles are committing more crimes than 20 years ago, and those crimes are more serious. Bailey spoke at the Jewish Cultural Center last week. She discussed how state government has allowed children to slip through the cracks.

She said many children in the community simply escape help in that way. But of those that do become involved in the juvenile court system, many have mental health needs.

Bailey who has been an elected judge for 20 years and served as a judicial referee for 8 years prior to that says that the damage done to some of these children isn't recognized until the child is older.

Payne explains that primary services are kept but preventative services that could keep children from becoming criminals or committing suicide fall by the wayside. Fortunately, she says, in Hamilton County there still remain a lot of good services.

Bailey said something you didn't see 20 or 30 years ago that you see now is children being sexually abused by their peers.

Bailey says that she hopes as a community we will soon be looking at a true collaboration. She says if the community can come together and collaborate on the services provided to make sure there are no duplications and that the money is being used as wisely as possible to make sure the last dollar is garnered from those services.

Hamilton County Juvenile Court Judge Suzanne Bailey. Tomorrow, Judge Bailey will discuss volunteer programs available within the local juvenile court. For more information on Hamilton County Juvenile Court as well as volunteer programs available call 423-209-5232.