Recent national and local statistics have shown juvenile crime rates have decreased in the past year. The severity of the crimesjuveniles commit, however, has risen.
Oxford Police met Friday with a juvenile Talawanda High School student and his mother who said he had been assaulted by another student on the bus between 7:45 and 7:50 a.m.
According to police reports, a 15-year-old male brought a cigarette lighter and a small jar of cologne on the bus and attempted to set the boy’s coat on fire. When he was unsuccessful, he reportedly sprayed cologne on the boy’s seat and set it on fire.
The victim reportedly put the fire out with his hand before the other student attempted to set his pants on fire.
The boys reportedly engaged in a scuffle, which led to the victim’s head being pushed against a bus window.
The bus arrived at the school without the bus driver having any knowledge of what had happened, but administrators reportedly found other students who were able to verify the story.
Similar instances of severe juvenile crimes have occurred across the county, including a recent rape of an elderly woman by a juvenile in Hamilton.
According to Oxford Police Department (OPD) Sgt. Jim Squance, Oxford has a unique situation where juvenile crime is concerned.
“For the past several years we’ve had a school resource officer,” Squance said.
According to Squance, financial situations led to cutbacks that took the officer out of the schools. Squance said he believes a decrease in reported crimes may be a direct result of this cut.
“We may have a decrease in incident reports we take but that may mean the schools are taking care of it more on their own,”Squance said.
As far as more severe crimes, Squance said Oxford’s juveniles seem to be breaking with the rest of the country.
“We’re not seeing an increase in severe crimes involving juveniles at all,” Squance said.
According to Squance, some of the success in preventing severe juvenile crime may be attributed to OPD’s close ties to a Miami University organization.
“We work very closely with the Coalition for a Healthy Community, and we do a number of programs on drugs and alcohol,” Squance said.
While Coalition for a Healthy Community Director Dan Urra said his organization does not work directly with juvenile crime, but their efforts in preventing drug and alcohol abuse in minors may be helpful in some way.
“Statistically crimes that are drug and alcohol related have went down,” Urra said.
While Urra said he is unsure of the increase in severity of juvenile crimes, he suggested violent video games and parental neglect might be part of the problem.
Butler County Prosecutor Robin Piper agreed.
“I think in general we as a society glorify violence in movies and video games, and I think it desensitizes young people,” Piper said. “It seems like young people don’t have the empathy and compassion and connection with other people that we used to be taught.”
According to Piper, education may be more important in ending a trend of severe juvenile crimes.
“Punishment is a response to a deed that has been done,” Piper said. “Education tries to teach us so those events or problems don’t happen.”
Piper said initiatives like character week and Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) in local schools may be helpful in combating juvenile crime.
“I think education is the key to the situation,” Piper said.