Ingham County Fights Youth Crime

Sixteen-year-old John Malcolm used to get in trouble with the law.

"Getting in fights, skipping school," Malcolm recalls.

But last month, he came to Ingham Academy.

"It's giving me a chance to stay away from that other stuff," says Malcolm.

Stuff Sara Deprez, who's in charge of the Academy's programs, says fewer teens are getting into, though Ingham County Circuit Court sees hundreds of teens in trouble every year.

"These kids come with a lot of issues," explains Deprez, Juvenile Programs Director.

She says some of those issues start at home, but the Academy is trying to change all that.

"We really try to rally around the whole family," Deprez says. "We want to make education important and make sure that they're successful in school."

That's exactly what Ingham Academy is: a regular high school for teens committed to turning their troubles around.

The Family Center and Academy do more than help struggling teens and their families. The county says these programs will help lower youth crime.

"We know that if kids stay in school, do extracurricular activities, and their families get the help and support they need, that kids are less likely to commit crimes and more likely to do well in school," Marc Thomas, Chairman of the Board of Commissioners, explains.

The Academy had 20 students last year. This fall, 41 at-risk teens are taking classes from Government to Keyboarding. And in October, the Center starts an evening program to keep teens busy after school.

"We're hoping to take up some of that time with pro-social activies, so they're not out committing crimes," says Deprez.

John Malcolm's not.

"I'm not getting involved with some of the stuff I'd be getting involved in if I went somewhere else," Malcolm says.


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