Problems facing Hawaii teen runawaysUPDATED 8:09 PM HST Jan 28, 2014Video Transcript
This morning's shooting at Roosevelt High School not only raised questions about safety for students... It also raised questions about the troubled teens who are Hawaii's runaways. KITV-4's Paul Drewes joining us now with our CONTINUING coverage... Calling police to arrest a runaway, like the student at Roosevelt High School, may sound like an unusual event, but it is an all too common occurrence here in Hawaii. :55-1:00 "I understand the Honolulu Police do more than 3000 arrests each year for runaway behavior" graphic here Running away is considered a status offense and is just one of a number of so-called crimes teenagers can be arrested for -- others include truancy, curfew violations and even a category known as being beyond parental control. Judith clark with the Hawaii Youth services Network says runaways typically are troubled by major family problems -- things like domestic violence, physical, emotional or sexual abuse -- but the teens are not usually troublemakers. 4:25-4:32 "they're running from serious problems that make them feel life on the streets is safer than it is at home... and that's a very sad thing" david@11:43-11:55 "when you look at the criminal history of these kids, the number of kids committing violence felonies against people - which is serious - is very very low. Most of our kids are involved in misdemeanor behavior." Currently about 700 runaways are helped by services statewide, but the actual number of runaways on our streets could be much higher. So efforts are underway to reach kids in schools and other places to encourage them to seek help before they are forced to run away from their problems. standup@14:50-14:58 Along with adding more programs to prevent runaways, there's also a push to de-criminalize many of the offenses that troubled youth face. David@9:13-9:24 "truancy and running away is a social issue not a criminal issue, so we need to look at how do we keep these kids out of court cause as soon as they start to appear in court you're caught in a system that's hard to get out of" Instead of an arrest, youth would get immediate assessments, and services followed up by timely case management. The changes to the legal system would initially cost Hawaii more, but Hipp says it would save the state in the long run. 12:18-12:28 "if we don't get to these kids early on, we're going to support them as taxpayers for the rest of their lives through DHS or public safety" Today at the state capitol, lawmakers also heard a bill that would create a "safe places for youth" network. Which would give troubled teens safe spots they could run TO... 24 hours a day -- where they could also start to get the services and help they need.