Parliament

Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search

 

The crime wave and young New Zealanders

Hon Jim Anderton

Member of Parliament for Wigram
Progressive Leader

30 January 2008 Comment

The crime wave and young New Zealanders

Are we experiencing an unusual spate of violence involving young New Zealanders? And if we are, what's behind it all?

There were ten homicides in January. The fatal stabbing of Krishna Naidu, the fatal stabbing of a 15-year-old in Manurewa and the death of British tourist Karen Aim shocked us. Last year, like the year before, we were all shocked to hear stories of very small kids killed or abused.

It's hard to imagine that things could ever have been worse. In fact, they have been. The rate of homicide is actually coming down.

Because the numbers are statistically small, they are volatile in any one year, so analysts look at the trends over five year periods. The most recent completed period was 2000 to 2004. Although it's too soon to be fully confident, the results since 2004 suggest the trends are still going the same way: fewer violent deaths.

In the five years to 2004, 279 people died as a result of assault or intentional injury. That was down from 293 in the previous five years and well down from the 347 people who died in the five years 1990 to 1994.

Around 1.2 people out of every hundred thousand are homicide victims. That is a significant drop from around 1.5 per hundred thousand in the early eighties. In the late eighties, the rate of homicides soared to 2.0 out of every 100,000 population. So New Zealand is a lot less violent today than it was then.

But New Zealand is still a violent place for young people. The group most likely to die as a result of violence are young people aged between 15 and 24. There were around 2.3 deaths out of every hundred thousand in that age group from 2000 to 2004.

Those least likely to die from an assault are the over-65s, and children. Among children, the risk is highest among the youngest. The assault death rate among under-5s is four times as high as the rate among 5-14 year olds.

Death rates in all age groups were lower from 2000 to 2004 than they were in the late eighties.

It's not only homicide rates that are falling. Our suicide rate peaked at 16.7 deaths per 100,000 population between 1996 and 1998, higher than at any time since the late twenties (which also happened to be a time of great economic hardship.)

So what could explain the pattern? Violent death rates rose very steeply in the late eighties, stayed high in the nineties and have since begun to come down. What else was going on that could explain the crime wave?

The pattern of violence follows exactly a pattern of economic devastation. When unemployment rocketed and families were hammered by hard economic times, offending rose dramatically.

As academic Dr Ranginui Walker has pointed out, the members of dysfunctional families are usually alienated, uneducated, unemployed welfare beneficiaries whose lives are marred by substance and alcohol abuse.

These effects fall disproportionately on some members of society. If it's true that offending gets worse when economic times are hard, then you would expect to see worse outcomes among groups that were hardest hit by hard economic times.

No group was hit harder in the eighties and nineties than Maori. In 1991 the Maori unemployment rate was 26%, whereas for non-Maori it was 9%.

The former CYFS Chief Social Worker Mike Doolan, who is now a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Canterbury, looked at Maori offending. He found that from 1977 to 1987, child killings among Maori were comparable to non-Maori. In the 1990s they increased to 2.40 killings per 100,000, whereas non-Maori were 0.67 per 100,000. Between 2001 and 2005, the figures for Maori child deaths have shown a significant reduction and at the end of that period were down to 1.34 per 100,000.

In other words, child abuse in Maori homes was higher when family economic circumstances were tougher.

And why should we be surprised by that? To put it another way, higher rates of child deaths in Maori homes are a commentary on the economic circumstances of the home, not on Maori.

As we've neared full employment and lifted more children out of poverty than at any time since the Great Depression, rates of youth killing have been falling. But they won't fall enough until we have a still more equal society, where all our families have economic security and opportunity.

Tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime is an old slogan, but it’s just as relevant today as it ever was. Hard economic times don't excuse violent abuse. Our experiences simply tell us that if we want to bring down the level of violence then we need to be realistic about causes. The high unemployment and economic wasteland policies of the eighties and nineties created a predictable environment of family dysfunction, stress and hardship that in turn produced predictable results. The chickens have inevitably come home to roost.

There is a direct motorway from economic carnage to violent crime. If we want a safer, less violent community, then we can't throw people on the scrapheap and we can't tolerate high unemployment. A stronger, more caring New Zealand, is a safer New Zealand. No amount of political posturing or empty rhetoric will change that.

ENDS

www.progressiveparty.org.nz

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On Why Welfare Reform Has No Champions In Parliament

Ever since Victorian times, the unemployed have been a problem for those more fortunate, wealthy and powerful. Down the ages, society has been torn between providing for them as victims of misfortune, or dealing to them as the shiftless agents of their own condition. Either way, the poor are commonly regarded as The Other – as a group of outsiders gathered pitifully, reproachfully, or (depending on your POV) threateningly at the gates of polite society.... More>>


 

National: "Todd Muller Announces Shape Of Next Government"

National Party Leader Todd Muller has announced the line-up of the next Government. “New Zealand is facing perhaps the toughest time that almost anyone alive can remember. “We are borrowing tens of billions of dollars to get us through this crisis. There ... More>>

ALSO:

Lockdown Rules: Timeline For Moving To Level 1 Needed

The BusinessNZ Network is calling for more clarity about the conditions under which businesses can move to Covid level 1. The network is concerned about large numbers of businesses that are at risk of closure if restrictions continue at the current ... More>>

Gordon Campbell: On National’s Day Of Reckoning

Congratulations. You are one of the 55 members of the National caucus being called together tomorrow to choose who will lead you to either (a) catastrophic or (b) honourable defeat on September 19, thereby saving some (but not all) of the jobs currently on the line. Good luck. Your decision process starts NOW... More>>

ALSO:


Budget 2020: Jobs Budget To Get Economy Moving Again

Investments to both save and create jobs in Budget 2020 mean unemployment can be back to pre COVID-19 levels within two years and could see the economy growing again as early as next year. More>>

ALSO:

Covid-19 Response: Law Setting Up Legal Framework For Covid-19 Alert Level 2 Passes


The law establishing a legal framework for the response to Covid-19 has passed its final reading and will become law in time for the move to Alert Level 2 tonight.
This is a bespoke Act designed specifically to stop the spread of COVID-19... More>>

ALSO:

ACT: Parliament Quits MP Cut Pay Debate To Go Home Early

“In an outrageous move, Parliament has today passed voluntary MP pay cuts and avoided any debate over whether to make them compulsory and transparent”, says ACT Leader David Seymour.... More>>

ALSO:

Trans-Tasman Bubble: PMs Jacinda And Morrison Announce Plans

Australia and New Zealand are committed to introducing a trans-Tasman COVID-safe travel zone as soon as it is safe to do so, Prime Minister Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern and Prime Minister the Hon Scott Morrison MP have announced... More>>

ALSO:

Government: New Zealand Joins Global Search For COVID-19 Vaccine

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters, Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods, and Health Minister David Clark today announced a COVID-19 vaccine strategy, which will enable New Zealand scientists to contribute to global research efforts ... More>>

ALSO:

The Dig: Steady State Economics: We’ve Got Some (systems) Thinking To Do

In this time of impending economic and ecological crises, we urgently need to aim for a sustainable or ‘steady state’ economy. In order to get there, we will need to adopt a ‘systems-thinking’ outlook taking into account the interconnections of our complex world.

In short, we’ve got some systems thinking to do... More>>

ALSO:

Election 2020: Parties Get Into gear

The Green Party is pleased to reveal its candidate list for the upcoming election. With a mix of familiar faces and fresh new talent, this exceptional group of candidates are ready to lead the Greens back into Government. Using the most democratic list ... More>>

ALSO:

Insight Into Regenerative Agriculture In New Zealand

There is a fast growing movement in New Zealand that has been happening out in paddocks, fields, gardens and hill country across the nation. It is a movement that holds the promise to reshape our productive land use industries towards systems that work with the natural environment to regenerate the land. The movement is that of regenerative agriculture. More>>

ALSO:

Covid-19: Tracer App Released To Support Contact Tracing

The Ministry of Health has today formally released the NZ COVID Tracer app to support contact tracing in New Zealand. Kiwis who download the app will create a digital diary of the places they visit by scanning QR codes displayed at the entrances to ... More>>

ALSO:

Government: Freshwater Package Backed By Comprehensive Economic Analysis

Decisions on the Action for Healthy Waterways package are supported by comprehensive environmental and economic impact analysis by leading New Zealand research institutes, universities, and private sector firms. More>>

ALSO:

Govt: Concern At Introduction Of National Security Legislation For Hong Kong
Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters says the New Zealand Government has reacted with concern at the introduction of legislation in China’s National People’s Congress relating to national security in Hong Kong... More>>

ALSO:


 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 


 

InfoPages News Channels