NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — This year, more than 40 juveniles have been shot, and at least seven have died in Nashville.
In fact, almost 10% of Metro's shooting victims are underage.
It is an alarming statistic, and it has a lot of people concerned about the choices young people are making.
Davidson County Juvenile Court Judge Sheila Calloway said the public doesn’t truly understand what many of these children are experiencing.
“There’s all this brain science that follows children and what they're doing. When you look at the actual brain science, children's brains don't fully develop until they're around 25-years-old,” Davidson County Juvenile Court Judge Sheila Calloway said.
Judge Calloway takes her job seriously. She’s making decisions on some of the most significant crimes committed by minors.
“The ones that I hear that involve our youth are the ones who have committed very serious crime such as murders and serious aggravated robberies. They're the ones that the state is asking that we send to the adult system for prosecution,” Judge Calloway said.
“You have to think about how does this impact the person who was harmed or the family of the person who was harmed? You have to think about what harm led to this event and how did that happen?" She added.
Before Judge Calloway gives her ruling there’s a lot of unpacking to do. One of the first questions she asks is “what’s life like at home?”
Court research found many of the kids getting in trouble started appearing in the Juvenile Court System at a young age.
“When we looked at the cases that were the children being sent to the adult system. More than 70% of them actually began in our system as a victim or as a child in a custody battle or a victim of child abuse or child neglect,” Judge Calloway explained.
The data revealed to Judge Calloway, children are growing up with a broken family life.
“In some cases, it's harder for someone who was raised with just a mother alone to take directions from most males. This is because males talk at you instead of to you and with me being in a single parent home, I had that rejection as well. That’s why you hear this statement. You're not my father. You’re not my mother. You can't tell me what to do through a lot of youth,” Tristan’s Barbershop owner Tristan Buckner said.
Tristan went to prison for second degree murder in his 20s.
He’s now out with a thriving barber shop business and an advocate for the youth and former prisoners.
He was raised by a single mother, Mary Buckner.
“The rules of Mary’s household, you come in on time to do your homework. And I didn't want to think that you were involved with boys and girls. That didn't think like I had taught them okay,” Mary said.
Tristan and Mary know a lot of families are broken. Mary witnessed it as an educator.
“I have gone to so many other student's funerals. The first thing that you say is did I help? do I enough to help? What happen? Who was he with? Why did he turn this way?” Mary explained.
Peer pressure is another obstacle young people have to overcome.
“This is what leaves a lot of boys and girls in jail. Because I want to be like my buddy. I don't want him to think that I'm soft,” Mary said.
“Peer pressure for youth is huge and most of the charges that we get here, well most of them are group charges. There are very few of them that just act on their own,” Judge Calloway said.
So how do we stop this revolving door of young people coming in out of the system?
Judge Calloway says providing services early in life and loving on them. She thinks everyone can play a role by simply being a mentor.
“Every little thing that we do for that one child can make a world of difference to that one child into our community. And so, I just asked everyone step up and take one, just one and we will make a difference,” Judge Calloway said.
If you do make a mistake and end up behind bars, Judge Calloway hopes people change themselves, like Tristan.
“There are so many youths like Tristan, who can change and I always want to tell people we cannot give up. I think it's so important that they hear from those people who actually have experienced the same thing they have. Those people who've grown up in the same neighborhoods. Those people who have experienced the same type of pressures that they had,” Judge Calloway said.
Tristan hopes to reach kids through his podcast and book series, so they start off on the right path.
“I’m choosing to be a part of solution and help them not make the same choices I've made. If they have made the same choices make sure at least they try to correct their faults and move forward from there because you can't change the past,” Tristan said.
Parents, if you're looking for resources through the Davidson County Juvenile Court, you can find them here.