'We want change': Community meets to combat the rise in juvenile crime in Prince George's County
OXON HILL, Md. - A community meeting on safety in Prince George's County was packed with people Wednesday night who are fed up with the rise in crime, especially involving teens.
Nearly everyone at the meeting inside the Oxon Hill Library shared the same mutual concern — juvenile crime is getting out of hand. One attendee even called the current situation an "emergency."
Leaders in the community, like Prince George's Councilmember Mel Frankin, say it will take a "holistic approach."
When the floor opened up for residents to talk, they said things like, "Schools are corrupt now" and "Where are these young people getting these guns?"
READ MORE: 15-year-old charged with bringing gun to Prince George's County high school
"Is it not possible to raise the age for allowing kids to stay home alone?"one man questioned.
According to Prince George's County police, 109 young people were arrested for carjackings in 2022. Since the start of the year, 9 juveniles were arrested for taking guns to school.
The glaring statistics prompted many people in the room to ask – where are the parents?
"I think we need stiffer penalties as far as parents are concerned," one attendee suggested. "They need to be held accountable for their children."
Prince George's County State's Attorney Aisha Braveboy said she can't hold parents responsible for a child's crime.
"Holding the parent accountable criminally will further erode the family structure," she explained.
What Braveboy said she can do is provide families with resources. She is working with the sheriff's office to start Saturday Academy for juveniles and their parents and provide them with tools they may need like child care.
"We absolutely need to focus on how do we give them the support they need, so young people aren't making bad decisions," Braveboy said.
READ MORE: 2 16-year-olds arrested for armed carjacking in Prince George's County
Councilmember Franklin said he's heard the concerns from the community and plans to take them back to the council and figure out a plan of action.
"I do think youth employment is a big part of this and whether it's connecting youth to existing jobs or creating jobs that are more interesting to get them out of crime, I think that's an action item," Franklin told FOX 5.
One resident said the turnout at the library in Oxon Hill shows how serious the community is about putting an end to the crime.
"We want change, we want something different," said Robin Espy-Harlan, a Prince George's County native. "And we want to all come together to make sure that happens."