MOUNT DORA, Fla. – Central Florida has recently seen a troubling trend of teenagers involved in criminal activity.
In light of this, after the arrest of four teenagers in Mount Dora this week, News 6 decided to take a closer look at the number of juvenile arrests in our community.
News 6 wanted to ask community leaders and law enforcement in Lake County what their solutions are to prevent teens from going down the wrong path.
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Sunday, a 16-year-old, two 17-year-olds and an 18-year-old — the latter identified as J’son Cyprian — were arrested after police said they tried to break into several cars at a Mount Dora apartment complex.
Investigators searched the car connected to the teens and found a gun under the driver’s seat, along with 69 rounds of ammunition, according to an arrest affidavit.
“The adult does have a prior robbery arrest,” said Mount Dora interim police Chief Michael Gibson. “He has been convicted for armed robbery.”
According to the affidavit, police said Cyprian pleaded guilty to armed robbery on April 28, 2022, when he was 17 years old.
Lake County sheriff’s Lt. Fred Jones said he was saddened by the rise in teenagers involved in criminal activity.
“I’ve seen decisions that these kids make when they’re 13, 14, 15, and then when they’re an adult and they go to get that job or apply to that college where those choices come back to haunt them,” Jones said.
According to the Department of Juvenile Justice, Orange County had 2,194 kids arrested from 2021-2022. That’s up 164 arrests from the year prior. The number of youth arrests in Marion County also saw an increase during the same time period, with arrests rising from 758 to 911.
Lake County also saw an increase in arrests. In 2020-2021, Lake County saw 581 juvenile arrests. The following year, that number increased to 854.
Jones said this is an issue that needs to be addressed.
“When it comes to, I guess, teen violence and other teen crimes, I think it’s one of those things — you can’t arrest your way out of it,” Jones said.
Jones also served as a mentor to kids at a local alternative school.
He said educating kids on opportunities that are available to them could play a part in a teen’s path.
“I think you have to show them that you can have a purpose,” Jones said. “You can have a ‘Why,’ and I think what communities need to do is do a better job and lead them down that path.”
Jones also said taking the time to let kids know they’re cared for and addressing childhood trauma can make a huge impact.
“I think a lot of stuff you see — you know, maybe those kids don’t have that village,” Jones said. “They don’t have that support, they don’t have that warmth and I think in some instances they decide to burn it down with their behaviors, by what they do.”
To learn more about preventative programs offered through the Lake County School Board, click here.
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