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Tough not enough: young victims’ fate not deserved

29 January 2008

Tough is not enough - young victims’ fate not deserved

The people who work with youth say they are concerned about the comments of public leaders in the wake of the murders of two south Auckland young people over the weekend.

“I am surprised that while families are still mourning the loss of two young lives, there are people making calls to clamp down on young people,” says New Zealand Aotearoa Adolescent Health and Development (NZAAHD) executive officer Sarah Helm.

“One of these young people has had their life ended - the ultimate in punishments - for what is essentially a minor crime tagging a property."

“Tagging is an offence, and one that we know is a nuisance. However, this bizarre and violent crime shows that the ‘get tough on youth’ message has gone far too far."

“It is unacceptable that people think that they can take the law into their own hands."

The get tough approach, has been shown to be ineffective in a number of studies.

“What we need now is calm and respectful discussion of this very sensitive issue."

“The perpetrator of one of these murders was a fifty-year-old adult. Should we be talking about boot camps for older people? Of course that is a ludicrous suggestion."

“We hope that our leaders will engage in sensible, rational and evidenceinformed discussion about how to make our streets safer, and to provide young people with hope, fulfillment, positive role models, and connection in their communities.

These are the things that have been proven to improve the lives of young people."

“Violence perpetrated by gangs is not a new issue, though we are seeing some very disturbing trends right now with a small number of young people engaged in very violent crime. The real answer to this is not a simple knee-jerk reaction."

“There has been some really good research into what helps to improve a young person’s life course and divert them from crime - and we should all be taking stock of such information."

Download a copy of the report "What Works in Reducing Young People's Involvement in Crime?" PDF 2.5MB click here

Causes of youth anger in NZ http://www.conference.co.nz/index.cfm/spre07/ programme/social_dynamics/youth_issues_research/127_2.html

Youth crime study in NZ http://researcharchive.vuw.ac.nz/handle/10063/71

ENDS

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