GULFPORT -- After 32 years as a youth court judge, Michael Ward admittedly has had a bellyful of “mollycoddled” children who showed no respect for others and no respect for the law.
Ditto for underfunded, understaffed programs that aim to protect abused or neglected children or to protect society from juveniles considered a danger to others.
That’s not to say he hasn’t enjoyed many aspects of a long career that allowed him to give thousands of troubled youths a fresh start, and to boldly criticize lawmakers and state officials on related issues and funding decisions.
I’m just a little lawyer that just did the best he could for as long as he could and I’ve done it for about as long as I can,” Ward said.
His final term as a judge expires today, a state holiday, which makes Tuesday, his 63rd birthday, his first official day of retirement.
“I plan to fish, crab and garden, and not necessarily in that order,” Ward said.
Ward was first elected as a family court judge. Twenty years later, the state abolished family court and put youth court under county judges. He’s been Harrison County’s youth court judge for 12 years.
Ward, married with five children ages 23 to 33, said he’s observed a growing trend of belligerence among some of today’s youth.
“Many children have no respect for themselves or their parents,” Ward said last week.
“I used to go five years without having to deal with some type of an assault on a parent. Now, I’m in shock if I don’t have four or five a day in crimes perpetrated by 10- to 17-year-olds against their mothers.
Read the complete story at sunherald.com