Pub­lic sham­ing over loot­ing ap­pro­pri­ate

Townsville Bulletin - - Voice Of The North -

MANY teenagers do stupid things. Some drive too fast, drink too much, par­take in drugs and make dumb and im­ma­ture de­ci­sions that, with the great ben­e­fit of hind­sight, they wouldn’t nor­mally do. It’s part of grow­ing up and mak­ing the tran­si­tion from child to adult. Just about ev­ery adult can re­call an in­ci­dent in their youth that did not make them proud. But we live and learn from our mis­takes and it serves as a les­son as we grow into adult­hood. And so it was yes­ter­day in the Townsville Mag­is­trates Court where three teenagers fronted Mag­is­trate Peter Smid on charges of loot­ing dur­ing Cy­clone Yasi. One of these young men ex­pressed sin­cere re­morse for his ac­tions, say­ing he was ashamed and that he had un­der­gone coun­selling for his lack of judg­ment. That was a brave thing to do. His lawyer re­marked that the pub­lic sham­ing on the front page of this news­pa­per rammed home the se­ri­ous­ness of what he had done. Mr Smid spoke of how the crime of loot­ing is so unAus­tralian, and at a time when neigh­bours were look­ing out for each other dur­ing the height of the cy­clone, these young men were tak­ing ad­van­tage of the sit­u­a­tion. As peo­ple cow­ered in­side their homes, and Townsville was de­clared to be in a state of emer­gency, these young men were out steal­ing lol­lies from shops dam­aged by the cy­clone. We must pose the ques­tion, as we of­ten do, about what were their par­ents think­ing? How they could even al­low their teenage sons out­side dur­ing a cy­clone beg­gars be­lief. A sig­nif­i­cant sec­tion of the com­mu­nity will not be happy that these young men were not jailed. An even greater per­cent­age of peo­ple will be un­happy that they didn’t have a con­vic­tion recorded. In­stead, they will be on a 12-month pro­ba­tion or­der and will have to do be­tween 120 hours and 200 hours of com­mu­nity ser­vice, and hope­fully it will be cy­clone clean-up-re­lated. For the young lad that ex­pressed re­morse af­ter his pub­lic sham­ing, this is an ad­e­quate sen­tence and the right out­come. He may just have a chance of learn­ing from his mis­take and liv­ing a nor­mal life, free of stupid de­ci­sions and crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity. For the oth­ers, we’re not quite sure. Ju­ve­nile delin­quency starts with the par­ents. Maybe they are the ones who should have been named and shamed in this in­stance, not just the teenagers.

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