More teenagers are joining the ranks of domestic violence perpetrators in Shelby County, District Attorney General Amy Weirich revealed during a luncheon Wednesday promoting the work of the Shelby County Family Safety Center in Memphis.
It was in June when we first heard of teenager Johnathan Ray who allegedly decided to trap his mother in a fatal fire in April after she threatened to ground him.
It can be viewed as a cautionary tale of a growing trend in the crime of domestic violence in Memphis and Shelby County. Teens are just getting mad but getting even with family members.
It's the haven you should go to before the line between lover and fatal victim has been violently crossed.
"Then Jakala said, "Yeh, momma, he kept asking us where you where? We kept telling him we didn't know where you were?' He said because we didn't love him, he would come kill us all!," said a domestic abuse victim.
It's a port in the turbulent sea of domestic violence where statistics take on human faces.
"Surveys indicate that one out of four women acknowledge that they have been victims of physical violence in their houses, and frankly, that probably underestimates the problem," said Bill Gibbons, former Shelby County District Attorney General.
Now in its second year of existence the Family Safety Center has become the focal point for law enforcement and service suppliers to mount a united assault against the crime of domestic violence. The center is one of only two agencies of its kind in the State of Tennessee.
"It is a collaborative approach to getting a handle on this community on domestic violence, providing hope for victims and healing for families," DAG Weirich said.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. To commemorate the occasion Southwind Country Club played host to a luncheon sponsored by the Republican Women of Purpose. With both past and present county district attorney generals in attendance, the audience also heard personal testimonies from victims of a crime that results in the deaths of three women and man every day.
Tennessee ranks sixth in the nation in the rate of women killed by men with domestic violence accounting for half of the violent crimes in the state. While the latest statistics show a drop of 10 percent in reported cases, there's still some disturbing new trends toward increased violence among other demographics.
"We do see a trend in the suburbs," DAG Weirich said. "The other disturbing trend we're seeing is that it's the number one crime being committed by our juvenile population."
Whether the numbers are on the rise or the decline, Gibbons said state government is prepared to come down hard on those who continually cross over into violence against family members.
"Gov. Haslam proposed and the General Assembly approved unanimously legislation mandating incarceration for repeat domestic violence offenders when physical injury is involved," he said.