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Let's Get Real about Violence says Sharples

Dr Pita Sharples Co-leader, Maori Party Member of Parliament for Tamaki Makaurau 27 February 2006

Let's Get Real about Violence says Dr Pita Sharples

"It's time to get real about the crisis facing many of our families in confronting violent crime" stated Dr Pita Sharples today in response to the media release describing a dramatic increase in number of youths caught for grievous or serious assaults.

"Families need to claim back their youths, to intervene and take responsibility in finding a future together" said Dr Sharples.

"Lack of action now will cost our whanau and our tamariki dearly in the future".

Maori are over-represented at all levels of the violence spectrum.

The National Survey of Crime Victims in 2001 reported that Maori were consistently represented in the groups most likely to be repeat victims of violent victimisations, assaults, threats and at risk of victimisation.

"Everyone knows when there is violence occurring in the family" said Dr Sharples. "It is time now to get brave, and to face up to the huge challenge before us".

"If your kids are roaming around town, then round them up. If they've got weapons - then take the weapons off them. Show the kids you care, by intervening and stopping their anti-social behaviour. If you don't take a step now you may lose them forever".

"My challenge is to every family to remember their role as the primary guardians of our children".

"The last thing our whanau want is for the state to intervene, and to take actions which can ultimately destroy the nature of whanau relationships".

"If you look at individual cases, of individual 'youths at risk' outside of their family context, we may never find the real cause for the offending" said Dr Sharples. "We need to address the whole family to find a way to restore their balance, to heal their hurts, and to find new ways of moving forward".

"And I'm not talking only about Maori families and Maori youth. I am talking about all groups. Parents let their boy-racer kids break the law; it's the same thing. There are Pakeha, Chinese, Indian youth racing their souped-up cars amongst pedestrians. Pacific Islands youth gather in groups and fight with neighbouring groups. It has to stop. Parents, uncles, elder brothers, mothers have to clamp down".

"The church has to take a stronger stand" said Dr Sharples. "Building strong communities is not the responsibility of the police, the courts, CYFS, WINZ etc. It is families who have to get real about their behaviour of their own. The prisons are jam-packed - we have a culture of arresting, convicting and imprisonment".

"Putting energy into getting more beds into secure youth residences, or managing for increasing numbers of young people in police cells is all about face".

"We need to look at the vital role that whanau play in supporting our young people" said Dr Sharples. "Indeed, if any interventions are to be successful their starting point must be about inspiring whanau to take on their responsibilities to their children".

"It is here too, that government departments need to be more creative in their solutions. In fact, mega-bucks are spent on 'baby-sitting' youth offenders in a case by case situation. If families assume responsibilities can be seen as a step in the right directions, then government departments should be looking at funding solutions which in turn support those families making a stand".

"It all comes back to the whanau" concluded Dr Sharples. "Our enduring solutions must be to reunite our young people with their families. This approach may indeed be challenging, but it is critically important if we are ever make a difference to the depressing statistics that make headline stories".

In another development, Maori Party Member for Waiariki, Te Ururoa Flavell, spent this morning visiting the Youth Justice residential site at Wiri in South Auckland, Korowai Manaaki. Mr Flavell had taken up the invitation to visit the site following concerns from within his electorate about the new youth residence planned for Kaharoa, near Rotorua.

"I talked with staff about our general concerns in the push to create more facilities to fill up with our young people" said Mr Flavell. "Our vision is that we have support for whanau to be part of the solution. This is particularly important to sustain any changes that may happen within these residences" said Mr Flavell.

"There needs to be effort put into monitoring and tracking of the young people once they leave a facility, effort to support the whanau, in order to create real changes in all of their lives".

ENDS

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