Get­ting on the right path

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - Southern Gazette -

YOUNG of­fend­ers fall­ing into a down­ward spi­ral of crime and vi­o­lence have found a new di­rec­tion in life, thanks to Save the Chil­dren.

SOME young of­fend­ers fall­ing into a down­ward spi­ral of crime and vi­o­lence have found a new di­rec­tion in life.

The crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity of par­tic­i­pants in Save the Chil­dren’s crime in­ter­ven­tion pro­gram, Strong To­mor­row, has been re­duced by up to 85 per cent.

The pro­gram pro­vides pro­lific of­fend­ers aged 9-14 in the south­east­ern sub­urbs with a youth worker who acts as a pos­i­tive role model and guides them away from a life of crime.

Strong To­mor­row was launched in Fe­bru­ary last year in the hope of re­duc­ing crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity among its par­tic­i­pants by 40 per cent.

Fol­low­ing its ex­cep­tional suc­cess rate, WA Po­lice has agreed to fund the pro­gram for another three years.

Save the Chil­dren Aus­tralia co­or­di­na­tor for Abo­rig­i­nal ser­vices Ka­rina Chicote said the pro­gram ad­dressed the is­sues that in­flu­enced crim­i­nal be­hav­iour.

“Most of the par­tic­i­pants have been ex­posed to of­fend­ing from a young age and that’s all they know; it’s a learnt be­hav­iour,” she said.

“We don’t have the power to stop them do­ing the wrong thing, but we do give them a choice.”

There are only four par­tic­i­pants in­volved in the pro­gram at any one time. Typ­i­cally, none of them at­tends school.

The youth work­ers of­fer day-to-day sup­port and en­cour­age par­tic­i­pants to go back to school. This can in­clude pur­chas­ing them a new pair of shoes so they have ap­pro­pri­ate footwear, or trans­port­ing them to and from school.

A lot of the time, the youth work­ers will take them out of their home en­vi­ron­ment for a few hours each week and work with them to find their strengths and in­ter­ests.

“If you work with them when they’re young, they can re­con­nect to their com­mu­nity and go in a new di­rec­tion,” Ms Chicote said.

Pic­ture: Jon Hew­son www.com­mu­ni­typix.com.au d440185

Ka­rina Chicote with youth men­tor Pre­ston Cull­bong and team leader Steve Dyson.

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