The number of juveniles arrested on drug offenses in Henry County and Martinsville generally declined from 2016 to 2018 while Virginia’s numbers were rising.
“Crime in Virginia,” a report compiled by the Uniform Crime Reporting Section Department of Virginia State Police, showed that Henry County Martinsville had only one drug-related juvenile arrest in 2018.
That continued a downward trend that showed Henry County with two juvenile drug-related arrests in 2016, five in 2017 and none in 2018. Martinsville had nine in 2016, none in 2017 and one in 2018.
Virginia had 2,087 juvenile drug-related arrests in 2016, 2,373 in 2017 and 2,184 in 2018. That’s a 4% increase from 2016 to 2018.
That also has gone against a trend when compared to data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s “2017 Crime in the United States.” That report showed that, from 2008 to 2017, the number of juveniles arrested for drug abuse violations declined by 42.7%, from 112,037 in 2008 to 64,203 in 2017.
“Although our numbers decreased while the state increased, we hope that our community policing efforts, our cooperation with Juvenile Intake and Probation [curfew checks], and the good work that our school resource officers are doing within the school system [ours and the city sheriff’s] are having an impact on our young citizens to make good positive choices,” Martinsville Police Chief Eddie Cassady wrote in an email.
“I would be [remiss] if we did not also recognize the efforts of Drug Free M-HC and Piedmont Community Services. We further must recognize that these numbers can change at any given time.
“It is a complete community effort to reduce drug addiction and drug use in any community.”
Henry County Sheriff Lane Perry did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
The Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice also has seen a decline in the percentage of drug-related intake cases to total intake cases in Martinsville from 2015 to 2018, though the actual number of drug-related intake cases has been up and down.
An intake case is when a court considers whether a child should be put into the system for drug-related issues.
Henry County’s numbers have been up and down. Keep in mind, though, the number of juveniles in these cases is small.
Jessica Schneider, research manager for the Department of Juvenile Justice, explained the difference between juvenile arrests by law enforcement and in-take cases.
“Our data will likely be similar to but not the same as arrest data because we track intakes instead of arrests,” she said in an email. “An intake complaint is a request for the processing of a petition to initiate a matter that is alleged to fall within the jurisdiction and venue of a particular juvenile and domestic relations district court.
“An intake officer at the CSU [court service unit] decides whether the complaint will result in no action, diversion or the filing of a petition initiating formal court action.
“The request processing a petition may come from parents, agency representatives, law enforcement personnel, or any other individual. Multiple intake complaints may be included in one intake case [similar to multiple charges being included in one arrest].”
Data that Schneider provided showed that Martinsville had four drug-related intake cases in 2015, seven in 2016, nine in 2017 and seven in 2018. Looking at those numbers as a percentage of all in-take cases, 5.8% were drug-related in 2015, 4.9% in 2016, 4.8% in 2017 and 3.1% in 2018.
Henry County had three drug-related intake cases in 2015, nine in 2016 11 in 2017 and eight in 2018. That means 2.5% of the intake cases were drug-related in 2015, 4.1% in 2016, 3.7% in 2017 and 3.4% in 2018.
Bonnie Favero, prevention manager for Piedmont Community Services, said that parents should monitor their children’s behavior and educate themselves about new trends as far as substances are concerned, letting their children know they disapprove of substance use of any kind.
“Parents should know their children’s friends and make sure they are being supervised,” Favero said.
“Juuling is an example of a trend that has many young people using nicotine for the first time. Parents need to know what the drug paraphernalia look like, where it can be hidden and what it can do their youth’s brains. We provide a program called ‘Hidden In Plain Sight,’ which educates parents about these issues.”
Juuling refers to electronic cigarettes, which allows addictive and poisonous vapors to be inhaled through an electronic device. Use of e-cigarettes have skyrocketed among teens, leading several states to raise age limits to purchase them.
Paul Collins is a reporter for the Martinsville Bulletin. Contact him at 276-638-8801, ext. 236.