As the number of juveniles involved in violent crimes rises, researchers and police officials are targeting younger children for education to keep them off the path of crime, the Memphis Commercial Appeal reports. One way is to expand quality pre-kindergarten opportunities for more kids, which reduces the number of teen pregnancies and, ultimately, crime. The top three local law enforcement officers — Memphis Police Director Larry Godwin, Shelby County Sheriff Mark Luttrell, and District Attorney General Bill Gibbons — gathered Wednesday to lend their support to legislative efforts to provide that quality early education to more kids.
Last year, $25 million was appropriated in the state legislature for pre-kindergarten programs. Gov. Phil Bredesen has proposed increasing the state’s investment in the pre-kindergarten program by $45 million. Quality pre-kindergarten has been directly correlated to fewer teen pregnancies, said Mark Rogers of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, a national organization with the support of 2,500 police chiefs, sheriffs, and prosecutors. The rate of teen pregnancies translates to a higher rate of crime, both in urban and rural areas. Sons of teen mothers are almost three times as likely to end up incarcerated as the sons of mothers 20 years old.