Neighbors share why community involvement reduces youth crimes

Published: Aug. 29, 2022 at 11:17 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Law enforcement has seen a rise in crime across Richmond County.

Parents and families are taking a stand to put kids on the right path.

Richmond County Juvenile Court hosted a forum to bring leaders and community members to the table to discuss some real solutions.

One mother says she wants to be a part of the solution for her family.

Many community leaders say to lower crime, the community needs to realize where it starts, and they say it’s at home.

“It was very frightening that this is actually going on, right here in Richmond County,” said Yiat Knight, community member, and parent.

Judges see these issues every day. From mental health issues to truancy and sex trafficking.

She says if the community doesn’t act soon, it could be too late.

“The human trafficking that is in Richmond County, the numbers of our children, that brought tears to my eyes,” she said.

Knight is not only a mother but also a grandmother who has lived in Augusta for more than 25 years. Knight learned from the Georgia Department of Family and Children Services that between 2021 and June of 2022, they received 69 intakes involving human trafficking kids under 18.

“You hear about it, but you don’t think it is actually in your county, where you live, and you’ve been living there for over 25 years,” said Knight.

She says the way to do something is to act.

“We have to talk, we have to ask the tough questions, you know, even to the adults, even to the parents, we have to ask them the questions, and we have to provide them with the resources,” she said.

The forum had a panel of professionals to help educate the community, pastors, DFCS, criminal justice professors, and more on what they could to do help the younger generation.

Chief Judge of the Juvenile Court for the Augusta Judicial Circuit Willie Saunders said: “Keeping your kid occupied, whether it’s in church, whether it’s in a civic organization, whether it’s rec ball, or any type of sport, or any activity that allows them to be productive.”

Knight says the meeting has left her inspired to do more.

“I’m even more eager to get out there and advocate find avenues, you know, jump on other committees. What can we do as a community? What can I do,” she asked.

Saunders says this is the start of the change they are trying to make in the community. The goal is to catch behaviors before they become problems. He says if they can do that, he believes the quality of life for everyone in the community will improve.