AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF) — The hard work of juvenile investigators in Aiken came to the forefront this week. A teen, who reportedly ran away from home, was safely returned to her family. The Aiken Department of Public Safety says its Youth Services Division played a huge role in the case.
“Runaway is not a good option, but we often see children choose that,” Capt. Maryann Burgess explains.
The team of seven is made up with juvenile investigators and school resources, who handle all cases involving children.
“We manage cases anywhere from drug addicted moms, to babies who test positive, to runaway children, to missing children, cases of abuse and neglect.”
But, their jobs don’t stop there. Burgess says school resource officers may serve as a student’s “mom one day. They might be a mentor the next day.”
The Youth Services Division’s main goal is to keep kids safe.
“Do we have to put parents in jail sometime? Yes, we do. But, our goal is to help a family function appropriately as a family so children do not suffer any ill consequences.”
The group provides resources, like food and clothing, to families so children can live in safe and healthy environments. They also work with groups, such as the Child Advocacy Center of Aiken County, which offers counseling services.
“Once the kid’s behaviors have decreased, the family situation is usually more positive,” Lasaundria Walker, a therapist and forensic interviewer at the Child Advocacy Center of Aiken County, explains.
Parents and children in need of help are encouraged to reach out the Aiken of Department of Public Safety at 803-642-7620.