CINCINNATI — One night after police said a 13-year-old girl was stabbed to death by another 13-year-old girl and less than a month since a 14-year-old Cincinnati boy was charged in multiple murders, community members are concerned about the spike in violent crime involving young people.
"You have to wonder what's going on in the mind of a 13-year-old that that person would want to take another person's life," said Ennis Tait, pastor of New Beginnings Church of the Living God and executive director of organizations Project Lifeline and Positive Force, which focus on reaching teens before they fall into a life of violence.
Tait said in cases like the stabbing on Monday night, the tragedy ripples through both the family of the victim and the suspect's family.
"Immediately when I think of the tragedy of, first of all, a young person being involved in an incident like last night, but having two of them, one to lose their life in the midst of the violence and one to lose their future," said Tait.
He said at both Project Lifeline and Positive Force, the organizations are seeing an uptick in delinquencies that usually don't happen until kids are out of school in the summer.
He said he believes the increase in teens involved in crime is related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and kids not having school as their safety net from hardships that may be happening at home.
Heather Chura-Smith, spokesperson for the Hamilton County Juvenile Court, said overall crimes committed by children had been trending downward.
"So, generally, I would say that our delinquency complaints in the community are down as they have been trending down over the past couple years," she said. "Unfortunately, as we've seen nationally and locally, there has been a slight uptick in the more violent offenses."
On any given year, she said, Hamilton County Juvenile Courts deal with around 10 homicide cases.
"We can't dance around it," said Tait. "We have to be very intentional about it. If we want our young people to be safe, we have to put our money where our mouth is."