Biggest problem with kids in douglas is drugs
The big problem with kids in Douglas County right now is drugs, said Scott Cook, juvenile justice administrator for Nevada’s Ninth Judicial District for the past 12 years.
“But it’s a very small minority of kids that get into trouble on a continuous basis,” he said.
Cook, who has a total of 17 years in the district’s juvenile probations department, said Douglas County JPOs tend to see more juveniles committing offenses in the spring and fall months.
“I think there are several factors at work – it’s too cold in the winter and there are plenty of jobs for kids in the summer, so referrals tend to drop off,” he said. “They pick up when the weather turns good in the spring, and school tends to be a networking system for parties.”
With 7,322 students for the 1998-99 school year, Douglas County’s is the fourth largest school district in the state.
And like many other jurisdictions, Douglas is seeing an increase in the numbers of younger offenders.
“Particularly, the younger ones need their time occupied in the summer,” Cook said. “When they get into trouble, we really try to handle the young ones outside the system.
“We’re also seeing more girls, particularly young teens in middle school, ages 12, 13 and 14. Fifteen years ago, we used to jump in with both feet on parental control issues without taking into consideration girls do different things when they go wayward. Ignoring the kids at an early age puts them more at risk later on, so now we refer them to Family Support in the early stages. And by the time they’re 16 or so, girls are usually getting more mature and making better decisions.”
Cook said he and his officers are also seeing more juveniles accused of battery.
“The school district is aggressive about schoolyard fights – if it’s not mutual, it gets reported,” he said.
He said there are also several factors that set Douglas County apart from other areas in the state.
“We have a couple of pockets of lower income people, but they’re not unemployed and they’re hard-working people. That’s a positive,” he said. “Kids always have a problem of not enough to do so there are a lot more things that can be done and are being done.”
Particularly, Cook said, building a community center or a series of centers in the Carson Valley and the South County would go far in the battle to reduce juvenile delinquency.
“Supervised recreational activities, gyms and dances go a long way toward helping kids see they don’t need drugs,” Cook said. “But, plenty of people in juvenile justice would trade for our problems. So, while more can be done, I wouldn’t trade places with anyone.”
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