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Putting responsibility back into parenting

Tony Steel MP Hamilton East

12 August 2001

Putting responsibility back into parenting

National MP Tony Steel is campaigning to reduce youth offending by making parents financially responsible for the crimes of their children.

"With a quarter of New Zealand's young people committing a criminal offence by the time they reach 19 years of age something must be done. A whopping 45% of burglaries and property abuse offences are committed by young offenders - up to 18,000 every year," Mr Steel said.

"The scary thing is that many of these young offenders go onto bigger things - assault, murder or rape. If we can stop youth offending with responsible, accountable parenting we'll have fewer hard-core criminals down the track.

"Family Group Conferences are a joke. 71% of young offenders dealt with through family group conferences re-offend. FGCs don't work for the offender and they certainly don't work for the victim. Victims have told me that at FGCs they feel like they've been attacked again. There is no justice for the victim.

"Stronger action must be taken against youth offenders and their parents if we are going to reduce future offending. Too often the excuse for youth offending is that they can't help it because of their social circumstances. With all of the resources going into helping families, that excuse just doesn't wash anymore."

Tony Steel has drafted a Private Member's Bill that he hopes to get before Parliament. His 'Youth Offenders (Parental Responsibility) Bill' will hold parents financially responsible for the consequences of the criminal behaviour of their children.

Mr Steel proposes that courts be empowered to award costs against parents, and to make other orders directed at establishing or improving parental responsibilities and parenting skills. Victims with small claims will have recourse to a Disputes Tribunal to obtain compensation.

"We must start making parents take more responsibility for the actions of their children," Mr Steel said.

Ends


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