Longtime Metro officer weighs in on teen violence

Crime Tracker

Are kids more violent now than ever, or is that just the perception?  

With social media and intense media coverage, it seems violence among teens is on the rise.  

News 2 recently sat down with a Metro-Nashville Police Commander Terrence Graves for his point of view.  

According to Metro police statistics, close to 1,500 juveniles – 15-years-old or younger – have been arrested so far this year.  

While the majority of young offenders are charged with non-violent offenses, like being a runaway, disorderly conduct or a curfew violation.  

This year, 45 minors have been charged with aggravated assault, 23 young teens have been charged with robbery using a weapon and three have been charged with criminal homicide.  

“One thing that really impacts a person’s life is their parents,” Graves said, adding, “Many of the issues we see in today’s society is because of lack of parenting or poor parenting.”  

Graves has been a Metro police officer since 1997. 

“I think about when I was growing up,” he said. “There were violent kids when I was growing up. People got murdered in my high school.”  

When asked if he is seeing more violence at an earlier age, Graves said, “You might have some that are mean and more callous, and you might have some that are really hurting and may take it out on someone else. Some people may not have a belief in a higher power – a fear – a fear of going to hell for killing someone, so they don’t have that fear,” he said.  

Graves told News 2 the Metro-Nashville Police Department has many programs to identify at-risk youth and turn young lives around.  

But in the end, Graves said it comes down to parents who stay involved, value family values and education.  

“You have to recognize people have a responsibility to their actions and they make choices – whether they come from a bad area or not – I know plenty of people come from bad areas who become somebody because they made the right choices,” he said.  

According to Graves, when the family unit breaks down, many young teens turn to gangs who provide a sense of family.  

“You won’t be able to arrest your way out of a problem, but the parents from birth, it’s up to them to teach them to follow rules in school because that will, in turn, teach you to follow laws when you get older and that will keep you out of trouble.”  

“Kid Crime Wave” airs all day Thursday in every newscast. Click here to view more stories.  

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