Crime may be on the rise all over the nation, the state and the county, but there has been a sharp drop in juvenile crime in Carroll since 1988.
"The population of the county has been increasing, the amount of adult crime is increasing, but the number of juvenile cases isstill below that of 1988," said Juvenile Master Peter M. Tabatsko.
Last year the number of referrals to the juvenile system dropped 21 percent, and the number of cases referred to the juvenile master dropped 12 percent.
Under the juvenile justice system, criminal cases against juveniles are referred to the Department of Juvenile Services. If the case is serious, Juvenile Services will rmfer the matter to the juvenile master who may recommend some type of detention.
Tabatsko said he can't offer any reaons for the drop in juvenile crime, but noted that "we must be doing something right."
Lynn Davis, acounselor with the Carroll County Youth Services Bureau, said one ofthe reasons the juvenile krime rate has dropped may be because professionals are willing to devote a lot of time and energy to juvenile cases.
"I have seen a great deal of networking among community agencies here," she said. "I have seen instances where five adults will come to a meeting that deals with one child. People find the time to make meetings involving kids."
Tabatsko said he is not sure why there has been a drop, but he speculated that several factors have had acumulative effect.
The most important factor is that public aoencies dealing with children have close cooperation and communication.
"We don't have a lot a bureaucratic fighting over territory. The Board of Education, Health Department and Juvenile Services all seem towork together well," Tabatsko said.
In addition, school attendance is up.The Saturday School program, which provides remedial help forchildren in danger of dropping out, has been successful in helping youths who have problems.
Tabatsko also said drug education, particularly the Maryland State Trooper's DARE program, has been effective.
"Fifty-five percent of the kids coming through the system abuse drugs or alcohol," he said. "The fewer kids there are abusing drugs and alcohol, the fewer kids will be coming through the system."
The youths that pass through the juvenile system closely mirror Carroll County demographics. Tabatsko said some come from nuclear families with siblings, others come from single-parent families.
"We get kids from the best families and from the most dysfunctional families," he said.
The rate of delinquency is low enough that the system can easily handle the workload. Tabatsko said he schedules one day a week for juvenile cases, whereas three years ago it took two days a week toaccommodate all the cases.
"We are set so we could handle an increase in the system, should that need ever arise," he said.