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Youth crime ‘unexploded time-bomb’
By PAUL GORMAN – The Press
Last updated 05:00 29/07/2009
Hard-core youth offenders are “unexploded human time-bombs” threatening the heart of New Zealand society, the top youth judge has warned.
Principal Youth Court Judge Andrew Becroft told the Local Government conference in Christchurch that it was likely some New Zealand streets would follow the trend of central London and the United States west coast for alcohol-fuelled knife violence.
“We need to know that, because it could become an issue in your local communities.”
The judge said youth offenders fell into two categories.
The first group, generally led by peer pressure, accounted for more than 80 per cent of all youth offenders but only 20 per cent of offending.
They generally did not continue offending beyond their teens.
However, the second group the “life-course persistent offenders” committed 80 per cent of youth offending, even though they made up only 5 to 10 per cent of the total youth offenders.
This group had severe behaviour problems from an early age and came from dysfunctional families and communities where violence and abuse were rife.
Eighty per cent were male, at least half were Maori, 80 per cent were not at school and about 75 per cent had drug or alcohol problems.
These “unexploded human time-bombs” were “hugely challenging”.
“You can never underestimate how difficult it is to work with that group,” Judge Becroft said.
While youth offending was falling, violent offending among young people was increasing, especially for the most serious violence offences, such as aggravated robbery and assault with a weapon.
The judge said New Zealand needed to get tough on alcohol, which was a factor in as many as nine out of 10 cases of youth crime.
Lowering the minimum drinking age from 20 to 18 had made alcohol more accessible to 14 and 15-year-olds and increased their binge-drinking, Judge Becroft said.
Young people were almost a different species of human being, he said.
“They are not junior adults, they are developmentally, fundamentally, different,” he said.
“They are a work in progress.”
The brain experienced a growth stage between about 15 and 17, allowing for better judgment, wisdom, common sense and sound thinking under pressure.
That developmental process was not complete until a person was in their early 20s.
A successful youth justice system needed the “commitment, competence and experience” of local government, not only for providing strong communities in which youth crime could not flourish, but also in providing or supporting programmes that responded to youth and prevented crime.
Among measures councils could take were to develop venues for community work, “get tough” on the availability and use of alcohol by young people, support truancy programmes and promote community networks by providing sports facilities, libraries, youth centres and cultural centres.
Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said youth offenders were a nationwide problem “and the bigger the city, the greater the number”.
He believed Christchurch was doing more than most cities to tackle the problem by part-funding youth workers, employing safer city officers and trying to reduce alcohol availability.
“We’ve got a generation of kids using it as a cheap and readily available drug,” Parker said. “It’s everywhere.”
Poor parenting was behind youth offending, he said.
Christchurch City councillor Yani Johanson said if councils invested more in young children it would reduce the number of troubled teens and save communities money in the long run.
Up on Ration Shed; with thanks to PAUL GORMAN – The Press
Well what do you expect when New Zealand FAMILY Law, Social Policies and the purveyors of them have been tearing our **Whole Natural Biological FAMILIES** apart for generations
Enshrining **Equal Parenting** deep with World-Wide FAMILY Law and Social Policy, giving Kids Mum, Dad, and all 4 Grand Parents from conception would soon strengthen our FAMILYS, reduce crime, reduce the need for pseudo family like gangs
FAMILY Orientated Authors are WELCOME.
- BLOG – https://rationshed.wordpress.com
- Yahoo – http://groups.yahoo.com/group/rationshed
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Onward – Jim