Authorities noticing spike in juveniles committing sex crimes
BATON ROUGE- The Baton Rouge Children's Advocacy Center is tracking numbers and noticed a dramatic spike in the number of juveniles who have committed sex crimes compared to this same time last year.
From January to August of 2017, the CAC in Baton Rouge reported 34 juveniles accused of committing sex offenses. From January to August of 2018, that number rose to 50 juveniles, a 38-percent increase.
"I've witnessed an upward trend in the last seven years at our children's advocacy center," Executive Director Toni Bankston said.
The offenses run the gamut from sexual batteries to molestation. Experts tracking the numbers say many of the juvenile offenders are victims themselves, which is why it is paramount to get them therapy.
District Attorney Hillar Moore said his office has also noticed the alarming statistic. Prosecuting juveniles accused of sex crimes creates a whole new level of challenges.
"It's always difficult prosecuting juveniles," Moore said. "We have juvenile witnesses and juvenile defendants. Their age, how can a two or three-year-old who has been molested or abused, how do you get that person to testify? You can't."
Within the year, Moore said the age of juveniles will change from 17 to 18. He fears that with increases already being seen when the age range changes those increases will continue.
Although attributing the increases to any one thing is tough, Bankston believes the climate children are living in now could be a factor.
"They have more exposure to things with the explosion of the internet," Bankston said. "They have more access to sexually inappropriate information...pornography... social media and the internet have changed boundaries for kids."
Louisiana is one of a few states in the nation that does not fund their children's advocacy centers, according to Bankston. They are currently working with lawmakers to try to change that to expand resources available to kids who are committing crimes at a young age.
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