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County juvenile recidivism rising

The good news is that Lycoming County juvenile probation workers are handling fewer kids.

The bad news — and it’s very bad news — is that the percentage of those minors graduating into the adult prison system has risen, according to Ed Robbins, director of juvenile probation in Lycoming County.

In 2003, Robbins examined about 1,800 adult probation clients and determined 14 percent had been involved with juvenile probation. In 2017, he determined 20 percent of adult probation cases had a history in juvenile probation.

So while it is great that the number of youths seen in juvenile probation has dropped from 900 to only 300 to 400 during the past 20 years, it is sobering that the percentage of juveniles winding up back in the court system within two years is increasing.

It gives us only a morsel of solace to report that the state average for juvenile recidivism is 25 percent.

So why does this happen?

It will come as little surprise that Robbins believes living environment is the key cause of juveniles becoming adult lawbreakers.

“The issues, risks and needs that the kids that we see have come from their parents’ lack of nurturing or oversight.”

The cure for that ill is a home-by-home one. When parents care more, good things happen. That’s been true as long as there have been parents and children.

It is noble that there are social services programs to help with this problem, but we all need to understand the ultimate solution to the problem has to come from parents doing a better job and kids having a stable home environment.

That’s not magic. That’s reality.

The best any of us can do is to take on the nurturing role whenever we see the opportunity for a juvenile who is troubled. At the very least, we can save them from an embattled life in the court system.

And sometimes, we might be saving a life.

If you see something you can do to change the recidivism cycle, do something.

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