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Organisations call for end to blame game

Organisations call for end to blame game: youth violence'

The people who work with youth say violence is a complicated issue that cannot be fixed by one-off programmes, and which is integrally connected to the rise in domestic violence and child abuse.

National Network of Stopping Violence Services 'promoting youth non-violence' project manager Garth Baker: "Young people are part of their community and reflect adult behaviour. A reduction in adult violence, especially towards young people, would significantly reduce youth violence."

Youth researcher Dr Fiona Beals says it is no surprise that the rise of child abuse is being matched by a rise in violence amongst youth. "We should not forget that young people are the biggest victims of violence, which feeds a cycle of violence," she said.

Wesley Community Action director David Hanna called for leaders to stop the culture of blame and rise above searching for simple solutions. "Violence is a complicated and ongoing problem that cannot be simplified or blamed on any one group. Violence is not new, and unfortunately the answers to this problem are never going to be an instant fix," Mr Hanna said.

National Youth Workers Network Aotearoa manager John Harrington said one of the most important things that young people need is a sense of connection, belonging and healthy relationships with adults that care about them. "Long-term relationships with youth workers would be an important and great step towards improving outcomes for these young people," Mr Harrington said.

Te Ora Hau Aotearoa spokesperson Manu Caddie said that as a national Maori youth organisation they reiterated the need for volunteers and extended family members to help strengthen the relationships young people have with their family, school and neighbourhoods.

Youthlaw senior solicitor John Hancock said that "stigmatization of young people and youth culture is counter-productive and does nothing to address the root causes of the issue."

Presbyterian Support Upper South Island youth researcher Sue Milligan said her research had shown that most young people who engaged in violent behaviour were themselves victims of violence. "Addressing our tolerance and use of violence requires co-ordinated multi-sectoral initiatives, aimed at communities, not just young people. Respectful, caring relationships, and inclusive communities that nurture young people's abilities and dreams are key to reducing youth violence"

New Zealand Aotearoa Adolescent Health and Development executive officer Sarah Helm said: "Instead of seeing young people as 'the problem', adult society should remember the many achievements and contributions young people make to NZ society."

NZAAHD National Executive Officer Sarah Helm

ENDS

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