Juvenile Crime Rises During Summertime

Since she was seven years old, Kimberly Young has spent three weeks each summer learning to be a gospel singer at a school in Pass Christian. Young is now 16, and can understand why her mother wanted her to attend all these years.

"At home, you've got all kinds of stuff that kids my age go through, like you've got drugs and alcohol and that kind of stuff and when I'm here, I'm away from it, so there's no chance of me doing it," she said.

Parents say enrolling their kids in summer activities reassures them that their teens will be exposed to positive role models.

"I think it's extremely important to keep children busy during the summertime," Kimberly's mother, Ann Young, said. "It gives them a sense of being, it gives them a sense of self-worth."

Police praise summer programs like this, and credit them with helping to keep kids out of trouble.

"Because school's not in session, so now the kids all have time during the day to be doing things and unfortunately, there is always that certain amount of kids that are going to reach out to do negative things during those time when they would normally be in an educational environment," Gulfport Police Sgt. Alfred Sexton said.

Kids we caught up with at the Harrison County Skate Park agreed that without this place to skate and hang out, they'd likely be getting into trouble, too.

"So we're not always out on the streets trying to do something, getting into gangs and everything," Kenneth Poore said.

"Yeah, keeps me out of trouble," Steven Corner said.

But, police say, it's not always the teens who are the perpetrators.

"Sometimes they become victims when they're in areas or they're out and they have nothing to do and someone targets them as a victim," Sexton said.

Police also encourage parents to learn the curfew laws in their city, and make sure their kids follow them.

Police recommend parents contact their city's parks and recreation or leisure services department to find out what summer programs are available for kids. Some local police departments also sponsor programs for teens to learn about careers in law enforcement.