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Combating Child and Youth Offending

22 August 2006

Top-level Discussions Held on Combating Child and Youth Offending

Around 200 people will today attend a symposium organised by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner to talk about what works to prevent and deal with child and youth offending.

Key speakers include the Minister of Justice, Hon Mark Burton, Child Youth and Family Minister, Hon Ruth Dyson, Dr Gabrielle Maxwell, Principal Family Court Judge, Peter Boshier, Principal Youth Court Judge, Andrew Becroft, and Police Commissioner, Howard Broad.

The Children’s Commissioner, Dr Cindy Kiro, wants to ensure that we deal with child and youth offending in an effective way that we can prevent it and ensure a better future for those children and young people who commit crimes.

“The purpose of this day is to provide quality information to properly inform public debate about child and youth offending. It is very timely given the current debate about crime and punishment including imprisonment for child and youth offenders,” says Dr Kiro.

“Recent media portrayals of child and youth offending have an alarmist tone suggesting that it is out of control and escalating. The evidence doesn’t support these claims with relatively stable youth offending rates over the past seven years at around 22% of total apprehended offenders.”

“We need to deal with this issue carefully and based on the evidence of what works, not anecdote and reaction. It is vital that we do as much as we can to prevent those things that encourage offending in children and young people. This means facing up to what is happening, but doing it constructively.”

“It is clear that we need to explain what we can do to prevent and address this offending behaviour, but also the antecedents that lead to the offending. The public needs to be assured that the best possible evidence and practice is being used to inform policy, legislation and services, in dealing with the serious issue of crime.

We need to examine the issues and debate solutions that take into account the principles of the Children, Young Persons and their Families Act 1989 and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child as well as research into the capacity of children and young people to both understand and rehabilitate their behaviour and what works with young people to stop offending,” says Dr Kiro.

“Today’s symposium brings together experts and key agencies in the field of youth offending who can make a difference and ensure an informed and robust debate aimed at finding solutions that work for all involved.”

ENDS

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