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Parents And Communities Solution To Youth Violence

Monday 24th October 2005

Parents And Communities Solution To Youth Violence

No one in our South Auckland communities can turn a blind eye on youth violence in our neighbourhoods anymore after the latest weekend attacks, says Manukau City Councillor Su'a William Sio.

Sio, who is a longtime Otara resident and represents the Otara Ward, acknowledges that there is already work being implemented at the grassroots level.

"I know many parents are working hard with their teenagers. I know the churches are doing their best. I know the police are working hard and introducing the Turn Your Life Around (TYLA) Programme aimed at youth offenders. They're prioritizing family violence in their efforts."

Otara, and the wider Manukau community, need to receive more community police and the resources that the police are calling for.

"But people have to remember that police, other agencies and groups, cannot do this work alone," says Sio who first moved to Otara in 1970.

"More parents need to take back responsibility for their families including youth. It's absolutely disturbing to see young people 13, 14, 15, 16-years-old talk about beating up someone and giving "retribution" as if it was normal," says Sio.

"If families and our communities aren't providing belonging structures, and positive reinforcement emotionally, mentally, spiritually and socially" says Sio, "then our youth will search for meaning and validation on the streets and in gangs."

"That's the reality. And it will take them into vandalism, violence, petty stealing, car jacking, drugs and ultimately death - their own and that of others they hurt.

In addition, Sio says, more churches & community groups need to be more vigilant and hold up a higher standard for young people to follow. "It means that when youth turn up with gang regalia at church or community meetings, or treat others with such shocking disrespect, you have to be regularly consistent in setting the right standards and limits, right then and there, says Sio.

Sio, says everyone - from parents, siblings, churches, community groups, other child and family agencies to police - has a role to play in combating the rising epidemic of youth violence.

"Otherwise, you'll continue to see a growing epidemic of violence that will grow and grow until you have seen every worst nightmare come true for our children."

Sio was also quick to point out that the youth problem we saw on TV is confined to a small group of the youth population. The majority of youth attend school, are preparing to sit end of year exams, have part-time jobs after school, are active in church & sports activities, and give meaningful service to their families and local community. These young people also need to be promoted, nurtured and supported in their quest to become responsible future leaders of families and communities.

ENDS

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