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Number of Young Felons on the Rise in Florida

By: Victoria Langley
By: Victoria Langley

Seven-year-old Johnnie Lee Morris was found guilty of four felonies just like an adult after beating up a classmate, striking out at school officials and police who responded.

Last month police used a taser on a south Florida six-year-old who was having a similar meltdown in school.

Amanda Busch of the Florida Children’s Campaign says cases of police being called on six and seven-year-olds raise disturbing questions.

Amanda Busch says, "We’re concerned that adults just don't seem to be able to control these young children and we feel that perhaps all adults working with children, including school officials, need to be trained in both crisis intervention and crisis management."

You might think some of these troubled children just need a hug, but it's not that simple. School officials are not allowed to touch children these days out of fears they'll be sued. Prosecutors say sometimes putting a kid, even a little one, into the legal system may be the only way to help.

Willie Meggs oversaw the Johnnie Lee Morris’ case and says now the boy will get court ordered counseling.

Willie says, "Our whole purpose in this case or any other case of this nature is to try to do something to help the child."

But the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice wants you to know the number of kids under nine in the system has actually dropped from 1,662 four years ago to 900 this year.

Steve Casey with the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice says, "What that indicates is the governor’s policies, as regards juvenile crime, are working and that the local communities are relying on the juvenile justice system to do what it's supposed to do."

People who care about Johnnie Lee hope he’s right.


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