CINCINNATI — There were 14 children facing murder charges in the Hamilton County Juvenile Court system as of Wednesday evening, following Tuesday's arrest of four teens by Cincinnati police in relation to the June killing of a 16-year-old.
Galevon Beauchamp was walking near his Avondale home on June 21 when police say someone shot him. He died three days later.
Bishop Ennis Tait from New Beginnings Church of the Living God Avondale is working with the child’s family and said his death is just the latest in a growing trend of young people killing other young people.
“This has become a pattern that young men between the ages of 14 and 17 are committing heinous crimes,” Tait said.
Out of the 14 children in the detention center, the youngest is a 13-year-old girl, according to Judge Kari Bloom.
“I was a public defender for 10 years before I came to be a judge. That’s what I was doing, and I have never seen this many kids charged with murder,” she said.
Cincinnati police say officers have charged six children with murder so far this year.
In nearby Columbus, a city with more people, police said they’ve arrested eight juveniles accused of murder.
“For most kids, juvenile court is the best place for them,” Bloom said, citing how younger children can access rehabilitation programs in the system.
“I don’t mean to excuse the danger that is created when a child has a gun," she said. "I think, though, what we have to do is keep ourselves open to the idea that, as kids get younger and younger and younger, we have to figure out why.”
She says the pandemic is adding to social setbacks.
“We’re seeing tragic and giant responses to conflicts, and we don’t have school as a conflict resolution," she said. "We don’t have a lot of other places open as we used to [to teach] conflict resolution."
In some cases, she says, adults are encouraging the violence.
“Older people who are willing to encourage children to pick up a gun, to go out and settle their arguments with a gun or with violence, and/or they’re willing to pay children to do the work on their conflict resolution for them,” she said.
In the Beauchamp case, the children arrested were 14, 15, 16 and 17 years old. The 14- and 15-year-old charged could be tried as adults, but only after a probable cause hearing and a second hearing in which a judge decides they cannot be rehabilitated in the juvenile system.
The 16- and 17-year-olds only require the first probable cause hearing to determine if they move beyond juvenile court.
Bishop Tait is forming a group of parents, principals, pastors and physicians that can send a cohesive message to children they encounter.
”You're going to see an opportunity for us to make a serious impact on the lives of these young people,” said Bishop Tait. “Especially these four, because even after this, they're still not lost. They still need our help. I would invite the parents and the family members to give us a call.”