MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Juvenile violence has taken hold of Memphis, leaving far too many children injured, shot and even killed. Often times, other kids are to blame.
WREG Investigators uncovered data showing in 2019, 495 juveniles were charged with serious crimes. That’s a 32% increase from the previous year and a 49% increase since 2011.
In 2020, MPD reported that 300 juveniles were charged with rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. About the same were charged in 2021. Already this year, 133 juveniles have been charged.
What’s even more unnerving is that 16 juveniles were charged with homicide last year, the most since 2018.
Sherri Brown never dreamed that her two grandchildren — Jaylan, 8, and Brycen, 10 — would be stabbed by another juvenile.
It happened on May 2. Brown went to get the kids pizza when she got a call that something terrible had happened.
She found police, and then found her grandchildren with stab wounds.
Brown said both boys had been playing in their Southwest Memphis neighborhood when a 14-year-old chased them behind some houses. According to the police report, he caught up to the boys, grabbed Jaylan and stabbed him first with a “sharp object.”
Brycen heard him scream, and then seconds later, he was attacked. Other children told officers they saw a knife. They heard screaming and saw bleeding.
Brycen was found suffering from stab wounds to his chest, stomach and arm, and Jaylan had a stab wound to his lower abdomen with his internal organs exposed.
“It blew me out of my mind because I’m like, I don’t even know what to think, say, I couldn’t even swallow,” Brown said.
Police took the teen to juvenile court. Paramedics treated Brycen on the scene and rushed Jaylan to the hospital. Brown says he spent about a week there.
“He was real sad. I told him it’s going to be alright. It’s going to be alright. Grandmomma got it,” Brown said.
And when no one was watching, Brown said she’d cry.
“I have to hold for him. When I break down, I break down on my own. Nobody see me cry. Nobody see me doing nothing. I do it on my own,” she said.
Police haven’t released the motive. Brown has no idea what drove a child to do that.
“I’m like what was he thinking?” she asked.
Police have said time and time again, juvenile violence remains a serious problem. As school lets out and children are now at home, some unsupervised, many fear it could get worse.
“Every day it’s like a challenge,” Brown said.
She said even when she kept a close watch on her family, violence still found them. It’s given her a new outlook.
She says the city needs to invest in more positive things for kids to do and bring those activities into the neighborhoods. The closest park to their neighborhood is two miles away. The closest community center is more than six miles.
“They need to have a place to go. Something to do,” she said.
She also says more people need to sign up to be a mentor, and parents have to talk to their children and speak up if they need support.
Brown says too many are complacent and just hope someone else will solve the problem. But violence has no boundaries.
Her grandchildren were in higher spirits when we spoke to them briefly.
But the house Brown worked so hard to build for her family doesn’t feel safe just yet.
“We all have to heal mentally. Not just him. We all do. The whole family has got to heal,” she said.