SUMNER COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – Sumner County is growing fast. Unfortunately, one prosecutor says so is juvenile crime. Child porn, sextortion, car thefts – it’s all a concern for law enforcement.
“It all keeps me up at night to know it’s getting worse in Sumner County, it’s getting more violent in Sumner County, and a lot of it’s juveniles,” said Jenni Smith, assistant district attorney general in Sumner County.
Smith said juvenile crimes have gone up so much they had to split the docket into mornings and afternoons. She added, a lot of that crime like car thefts, drugs, evading arrest, and burglaries, spills over from Davidson County.
“Ya know what, I’m not really sure. I’m not sure why they come up here because it’s sort of a well-known thing that you don’t come up to Sumner County to commit crimes because we are pretty tough on criminals that do come up here.”
It’s not just street crimes. In Sumner County, Smith also prosecutes her fair share of crimes in the same home, including child on child rape.
“It’s typically children under the same roof where the teen perpetrator has some sort of access to that minor child. We see a lot more of that than what people might think.”
Child sexual abuse cases are some of the most common Smith sees. Her advice to parents is to “get rid of your child’s cellphone.”
“The amount of trouble that a teenager can get into with a cellphone, it’s pretty bad,” said Smith. “It could seem innocent at first. A girlfriend sending something to a boyfriend. But then boyfriend airdrops it to a bunch of friends, or posts it online – and that’s all child pornography.”
Everyone that has that image on their phone could get hit with a felony. She also sees teenage boys sending naked photos to people online they do not know, which can fast turn into a sextortion case.
“Turns out that it’s not an attractive female at all. It’s somebody who now says, ‘okay, you’ve sent me this. Now you pay me $1,000, or I’m going to send this to everybody you know.’ Then they are stuck in a sextortion.”
Smith also said adult criminals are using children to commit crimes for them knowing that the child will get off easier in juvenile court.
News 2 looks at the community consequences of the growing number of kids committing crimes and new ideas about solutions with our special reports, Juvenile Crime.