Adult Crimes Being Committed at a Faster Pace by Teenagers

By Sylvia Gonzalez
NewsWest 9

ODESSA - This may surprise you, kids as young as seven years old are being locked up in West Texas for dealing drugs and it seems these days that younger children are committing adult crimes.

Senior Probation Officer William Bess has been doing this job for 14 years. He says lately he has noticed some of the offenders he deals with are younger than in years past.

"Juvenile crime doesn't have the same connotation 30 years ago that it does now. Juvenile crime is the same crime committed that adults do, its just that juveniles are committing it now," Bess said.

Bess says the youngest offender he came across was a seven year old who was distributing drugs in school. Though he says many young offenders do various crimes, drugs is still their biggest problem.

"Everything from firearms to drugs to child pornography to white collar crime, but if I had to just choose the biggest, probably because of our proximity to the Mexican Border, it's probably drugs," Bess said.

If you think it's only young men committing adult crimes, think again. Bess says more young women are also committing these offenses.

"We have young ladies taking the lead in criminal behavior, so yes it's still more man dominated but we are seeing more females, more than we ever have," Bess said.

Bess says both truancy and graffiti are considered petty crimes compared to what kids are doing nowadays.

"These days you don't tie crime to that stuff anymore. It's gotten to the point where that's youthful activities. Unfortunately, when you're talking about juvenile crimes, you connect it with adult criminal behavior, you're talking about violent offenses, you're talking about sex offenses, you're talking high level theft and things of that nature," Bess said.

Bess mentioned one contributing factor for teenagers committing adult crimes is social media, he said though it's a good tool, this is where many young people meet the wrong crowd and begin doing things they shouldn't do.