GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. — A Guilford County group is hoping to get more than $1.2 million from the state for crime prevention.
Since the “Raise the Age” initiative passed, taking 16 and 17-year-olds out of the adult criminal system, local groups and the Guilford County Juvenile Crime Prevention Council are preparing for a lot more kids needing their programs.
Through the doors of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater High Point, kids are playing.
They’re part of programs that work to make sure they stay out of trouble.
“And get on the right track,” said J.J. Greeson, the Administration Liasion for the Juvenile Crime Prevention Program. “We’ve got some kids who are 6 years old that are doing some very unfortunate, heinous crimes. If we get them younger, the better.”
The group is hoping to get millions of dollars from the state not only to help with at-risk youth, but the influx of teenagers they’re expecting from “Raise the Age.”
“[But] the closer they get to adulthood, we want to catch them as soon as we can and show them there are other opportunities out there,” said Floyd Johnson, the president and CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater High Point. “Instead of going down the wrong path and doing things that could get them a criminal record and follow them for the rest of their lives.”
Johnson is hoping the additional funds for these teens can make a difference.
He says, they’ve been seeing too many young adults involved with crimes already.
“Just the fact they’re carrying firearms around, you’ve got to look at it and see what we can do as a community and embrace the child and work to get them back on the right path,” Johnson said.
With his application, he hopes the additional funds will be used to implement something called the “Positive Action” program.
It’s a nationwide program that focuses on how positive thoughts and feelings lead to better life choices.
“If you feel better, than you do better,” Johnson said. “It’s just really a positive alternative to what they may not have in their life.”
He’s seen it work before while working with other Boys and Girls Clubs and hopes Guilford County will see the same benefits.
“All of our participants had no recidivism with the courts. We had some court-involved youth in our programs and none of them had to go back to court,” Johnson said. “Our goal is to create responsible and productive citizens. This is just another way to do it.”
Right now, there are about 2,000 children involved in the Juvenile Crime Prevention Council programs.
Because of “Raise the Age,” officials are projecting an additional 621 teenagers could get involved with these programs.