Youth Crime is now at epidemic proportions, and our leaders are indulging in severe hand-wringing while applying Statistical interpretation spin trying to deflect blame.
A byproduct of this problem is a 12-year-old has murdered her carer. That murder is a direct consequence of ideological values trumping pragmatic actions – the 12-year-old should have been in secure care.
The girl had run away 275 times in three years, and nobody was clever enough to put her in secure care to protect her.
The CAA has long been warning of this totally predictable outcome, first identified by the CAA nearly a decade ago. Our so-called leaders are unashamedly changing the measuring parameters to cover their ineptitude.
Different labels will not modify behaviour.
The missing link in this issue, as with others, is Leadership. Without competent leadership, this, like many other problems, will not be addressed in any meaningful way – they can just blame the parents, a motherhood statement to deflect from their ineptitude.
As reported in the Melb. Age 22/12/23, data released by the Crime Statistics Agency on Thursday shows crimes committed by minors have reached a nine-year high, with those aged 10 to 18 overrepresented in robberies, burglaries, and theft.
The strategy, it seems, is that raising the age of criminal responsibility will solve the problem because children under 14 are too young to understand they are breaking the law. Technically probably true, but they certainly know right from wrong.
Of course, this strategy will solve the problem (statistically) overnight.
The Statistics Agency will produce glowing figures for the seat polishers to crow about, having achieved a dramatic fall in youth-related crime offending. Statistics don’t lie, but when it comes to statistics, there are lies, damn lies and statistics.
This strategy is cold comfort for Victims of a home invasion, as categorising young miscreants’ actions as not criminal is only a label and will not drive behavioural change. However, more than likely it will increase the offending because young people will know, there are no consequences. “If I break into a house, I can’t get into trouble.”
Expert advice quoted in the article says it all,
“It was ‘ludicrous’ to think that a 12-year-old could be held legally responsible for their actions.”
This is the type of ideological rubbish ‘Expert advice’ that has got us to where we are now.
Children of this age know right from wrong; however, they may not fully understand the consequences of their actions, which is a far cry from not understanding what actions are criminal (wrong).
From a very young age, we teach children not to do things, explaining and sometimes by controlled demonstration, the consequences if they ignore our advice. Don’t put your hand close to the fire, or you will get burnt. Do not cross the road without looking, etc. By the time a child is about 6, they have grasped right from wrong in a rudimental sense.
So, we are prepared and accept that teaching children life skills is acceptable and desirable, but we want to give them a free pass regarding criminality.
Children are taught through consequences that they understand. Still, often, no more is needed than a reprimand to achieve complaint behaviour that is in their best interest. A Police caution, for example.
This leads to a major part of the solution – education.
Children’s criminality is a learned phenomenon, not a lack of understanding of right from wrong. There are simple solutions if we are serious about making changes and saving many young lives from being wasted.
Behaviour is taught, not hard-wired into their cognisance.
Essentially, support parents rather than blame them by introducing a formal learning program to address and correct the cognisance of young people using the group learning approach only available within the school system.
The calls for more support services are just that, calls, and are the same calls echoed every time the statistics on youth offenders are released year in and year out.
Simply changing the age of criminal responsibility will not change or reduce any criminal behaviour. The children will still commit robberies (Home invasions), burglaries (Home invasions when nobody is home), and theft (Predominantly from other children).
So, education is first, and the second part is to introduce appropriate consequences.
Police say a “core group of 207 recidivist offenders” are responsible for most of the crimes, with officers arresting 82 youth offenders more than 10 times over the reporting period.
The second part of a strategy to dramatically reduce offending is to prioritise proactive work rather than worry about diversions after they are caught.
The courts have a major role to play, and the above paragraph clearly demonstrates the Court’s failure to contribute to modifying the status quo.
How can anybody expect a juvenile to stop offending if they are arrested over 12 months more than 10 times? When does the penny drop, they are currently incorrigible.
After once, twice or thrice, there is an irrefutable argument that they need to be secured to,
- Protect them from themselves.
- Demonstrate that their actions come with consequences.
- Protect potential victims.
- Stop rationalising their behaviour.
There is an argument for a mandatory three-strike rule if the Judiciary declines to show leadership and facilitate consequences rather than threats.
Diversions for repeat offenders mean they are not working, so why persist with them?
The argument that the CAA has proffered for those who succumb to drug problems can be transposed into the youth area.
It is not how long they are in detention, but the fact that they are, is the key.
All the negative arguments put forward in opposition to detention are based on the assumption of the impact of months or years; we propose weeks of structured detention, not a week-long party doing nothing, their favourite pastime, apart from committing crimes.
What is misunderstood and not considered is that time for young people moves at a far slower pace than it does as we age, so we cannot properly transpose issues to young people measured in adult time or values.
A week or two in detention will achieve the desirable outcome. They will not be hardened into criminality but will cause a hiatus in their social networking that forms part of their criminal activity.
They can also be exposed to discipline.
No ability to connect with peers for a week or so will cause the peers to move on, and the perpetrator has broken the nexus, enabling them to shake bad behaviour and influences, one of the big drivers of juvenile crime.
In two weeks, the average social network of a young person can change multiple times.
The CAA implores those of influence to change course for the good of young people and focus on education and developing appropriate consequences if there is any hope of achieving a breakthrough to reduce destroying young lives, let alone the lives of some of their victims.
All current efforts have failed and discontinuing the Police in Schools program a decade or more ago removed one of the key pillars, education.
The other major contributor is applying the failed theory of Restorative Justice to the juvenile sector. A concept that rewards bad behaviour and moves responsibility to the victims.
As a senior Police executive was quoted as saying,
“When population is considered, Victoria still has its second-lowest crime rate at any point over the past decade”.
That statement, ‘weasel words’, perhaps says it all, considering the population, it seems, is only an afterthought, where they should be a critical consideration in prioritising action to resolve the problem. It is deeply worrying that the population is so poorly considered as a priority by the Police.
No more ‘weasel words’, but identifiable and realistic actions.
It is time to show the mettle, not the hollow, repetitive words and statistics currently in vogue.
Acknowledge and fix the problem.