"The summer is a tough time," says Juvenile Court Judge Velma Tilley, "Problems at home peak when kids are out of school, then problems with school peak when school gets back in.
"We have a peak of burglaries and criminal trespass when school gets out and on holidays when kids are unsupervised," she said.
According to the Office of Juvenile Justice, juveniles have been involved in one-quarter of serious violent victimizations annually over the last 25 years. Tilley attributes this to a lack of education.
"Because of the budget cuts the graduation coaches have disappeared, and the social workers are gone and counselors don't have time to deal with it," she said. "It's hard to convince them that there are so few opportunities without education."
Delinquency in minors is apparent in the early teen years between 14 and 16. However, if the child's age is below that, Tilley says there could be some serious supervision problems. "We rely on parents and sometimes we have 25-year-old parents trying to provide guidance for 10-year-old kids," she said.
"Shoplifting is one of the huge crimes," said Tilley. "Criminal trespass, unruly, runaways, being out past curfew, the kind of misbehavior not doing what your parents say, that can get out of hand.
"If these kids are sneaking out at night and end up in a situation that they don't realize how bad it is ... kind of like the sexting issue, they don't realize how that can escalate and how dangerous that can be and the long lasting effects. Obviously drinking behaviors and gateway drug behaviors are a concern [as well]." she added.
Crime is often stereotypically associated with boys, but girls can also be unruly and fall into trouble.
"Criminal trespass, burglary and breaking into cars, the crimes of opportunity, those are typically male crimes," said Tilley, noting that she has not seen new statistics to confirm this belief although evidence suggests truth in the statement. "[If] car doors are unlocked and there's something on the seat ... boys are out wandering and see things, that's typically not a girl crime."
Girls -- as incident reports from both the Bartow County Sheriff's Office and the City of Cartersville police show -- are mostly caught shoplifting or fighting with their parents. In the past month, one report detailed a mother's account of her suspicions of her daughter emptying part of the water from her water bottle and adding bleach as a means to possibly kill or severely harm the parent.
"Instead of trying to address problems after they get out of control we need to address problems in younger children before they get to where they're physically out of control," says a concerned Tilley. "We're trying to provide resources for families at earlier stages."
In efforts to help parents combat unruly behavior at all ages, Bartow has several resources to entertain minors and provide positive encouragement. For little or no cost, the natural resources of the lake, hiking trails and parks can play a role in passing the long summer days as well as encouraging physical activity. Also, as Tilley notes, music and theater camps are available for kids who may not be successful in academics. "[For the] kids that aren't doing well in school because academics are difficult for them, they're generally very creative," says Tilley, "so that kind of creative outlet is really the outlet where they can shine."
For ideas on how to help juveniles maintain a clear path to success in life, and to learn more about resources available for parents, contact the Boys & Girls Clubs of Bartow County by calling its Cartersville Unit at 770-382-5500 or Adairsville Unit at 770-773-7333.