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2 Maryland teens charged hate crimes

Recent hate crimes have been committed in Potomac, Maryland, targeted against the Jewish community. Police believe two local teenagers are responsible for the crimes. The acts included spray painting buses and a childcare center, as well as scrawling graffiti and crude language on businesses and on a private residence. The language was so hateful that the exact wording could not be repeated in reports, and images could not be broadcast on the evening news.

The chief of police issued a statement that said out of 20 incidents over the last month in the county, three have been classified as hate crimes. One target, the county-run, childcare center on Seven Locks Rd., had been spray painted with swastikas and other offensive graffiti. Another target was a nearby synagogue.

County executives have expressed shock that this type of activity targeted at one cultural group was unimaginable and thought to be a thing of the past. A member of the International Cultural Center in Montgomery Village was also shocked, wondering where such deeply hateful messages could emanate from. That member wondered if unsupervised Internet activity, classmates or verbiage possibly repeated from home were responsible.

Investigators believe the two teenagers may be connected to other acts of vandalism and hate crimes across the county. While their names were not released, the young men were identified from surveillance cameras at a local school. The state attorney's office issued a statement saying they could be charged as adults due to the severity of the acts.

Hate crimes affect everyone, not just a specific group or target. When youngsters face criminal charges as adults, experts believe there are underlying psychological factors that need to be addressed before drastic behavior goes to the next level. As the nation faces shootings and violence by disturbed individuals with histories of mental disorders, we all should work together to help these youngsters facing criminal charges. We are obliged to investigate the root of such shocking acts, and we are compelled to collaborate with informed entities who can work with us to prevent further tragedy.

Source: NBC Washington.com, "16-Year-Olds Charged With Hate Crimes for Anti-Jewish Graffiti" Mark Segraves, May. 10, 2014

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