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Education Not Vengeance Key To Crime Prevention

Governor-General Says Education Not Vengeance Key To Crime Prevention

Baying for blood may be very satisfying but it is unlikely to be effective in the reduction of crime according to the Governor-General, former High Court Judge, the Hon Dame Silvia Cartwright.

Dame Silvia was speaking at a function organised by the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO to celebrate the United Nations Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World (2001-2010).

“Education is the key to reducing offending and re-offending. Providing a person at risk of criminal offending with a means of earning a living, or of effecting positive life changes is more likely to reduce criminal offending that a purely punitive policy,” she said.

“Increasingly research demonstrates that imprisonment for a wide range of non-violent offences is counter-productive. Young criminals emerge embittered, unemployable and with an indifference about re-offending. So policies that emphasise prevention of offending, while ensuring that those who are truly a danger to the community are kept out of it, make sense even if they do assuage the thirst for vengeance.”

Dame Silvia told the gathering that violence in a society can be an indicator of injustice and inequality.

“Those who commit violent acts will often be poorly educated, lack empathy with those who are vulnerable and have a severely dysfunctional family life. Often they will be poor.”

Dame Silvia said while it is important for New Zealand to do everything it can to promote the goal of international peace, there is a degree of hypocrisy if we fail to promote the building of a culture of peace at home. “The foundation of a peaceful world lies in creating a fair society where everyone has equal access to opportunity and to education.”

The Governor-General said it is a particular source of shame that children, who need and deserve the opportunity to grown in peace and to receive our greatest care and protection, so often receive the least. Our claim of some decades ago that New Zealand is a great place in which to raise children can no longer be made.

While the problem has now been acknowledged, Dame Silvia asked whether enough was being done to prevent another generation of children becoming victims or criminals.

She hoped that the naming of this decade for peace and security for the children of the world would bring a sharper focus on these issues. As a nation that professes to love peace, Dame Silvia said New Zealand had a responsibility to support UN programmes addressing the problems facing children. “Only then can our concern for the children of strife torn societies ring true,” she said.


Ends

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