Children Entangled in Criminal Behavior

, Written by Christine Pitawanich, Posted: Tue, April 9 2013 at 6:09 PM, Updated: Tue, April 9 2013 at 6:51 PM

Mother Wendy Davis said it's not easy to think about kids and crime going together.

"I wonder how far it has to go before people start to really reconsider what their children are reading and hearing seeing," said Davis.

She and others are shocked to hear a 10-year-old in Washington state plead guilty to a murder plot and before that some months ago, an 11 and 7-year-old in Portland allegedly tried to rob a woman at gunpoint.

"It seems so outrageous," Davis said.

Jackson County Deputy DA for the Juvenile Section, Brandon Thueson said when it comes to youngsters under 12, they're rarely prosecuted in court.

"There are other options," began Thueson.

"They have to admit what they did and then they have to do different services, counseling or youth accountability class or anger management."

Of course the decision to prosecute also takes into account the severity of the crime. 

However, Thueson said the overall goal is to rehabilitate kids who get in trouble with the law before they hit 18.

"So when they're 25 they're not breaking the law," said Thueson.

He said the Supreme Court decided that underage kids can't "appreciate the criminality of their conduct" and can't be sentenced to death or prison without parole.

"One of the last parts of the brain to develop is the frontal lobe which has to do with judgement, risk assessment...a lot of these kids don't have that ability to make good choices," said Thueson.

Meantime, mom Wendy Davis is taking steps to ensure a good relationship with her little one. She's trying to build a solid foundation that will help keep him crime free both in his childhood and the future.

Thueson said over the last 10-years, crime is generally down for kids under the age of 18.

One portion of juvenile crime they are seeing an increase in though, is related to gang activity.

Medford police said they do not respond to many reports of crime involving kids under 12.

About the Author

Christine Pitawanich

Christine Pitawanich was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. In 2010, she received a master's degree in Broadcast Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in New York.

Christine also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of Washington.

Before joining the NBC5 News team, she had the opportunity to file reports from Washington D.C. for WFFT FOX Ft. Wayne News in Indiana. Christine has also interned at KOMO-TV in Seattle.

Christine loves to ski, try new food and have fun in the outdoors.

Catch Christine anchoring weekdays on NBC 5 News at 5pm.

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