Young of­fend­ers pri­ori­tised in poli­cies

Hamilton Press - - OUT & ABOUT -

From pre­vi­ous page. Fines for young chil­dren out be­tween 12 and 5am is a heart­less pol­icy that risks fur­ther dis­crim­i­nat­ing against young peo­ple who are al­ready be­ing failed by our jus­tice sys­tem, a dis­pro­por­tion­ate num­ber of whom are Ma¯ori.

It is also a frankly ridicu­lous re­sponse to the fam­ily and sex­ual vi­o­lence which drives many chil­dren onto the streets.


The Na­tional pro­posal can be best de­scribed as too lit­tle too late. As New Zealand First Youth Af­fairs Spokesper­son ListMP Dar­roch Ball said ear­lier this year, ‘‘...A boot camp for of­fend­ers is point­less if the jus­tice sys­tem doesn’t hold young of­fend­ers to ac­count.’’

The best course of ac­tion is pre­ven­tion rather than cure, which is why New Zealand First Youth Af­fairs Spokesper­son List MP Dar­roch Ball pro­posed a Youth Em­ploy­ment, Train­ing and Ed­u­ca­tion scheme (YETE) aimed at help­ing dis­en­gaged youth by giv­ing them Army-run paid trade train­ing and im­prov­ing their lit­er­acy and nu­mer­acy so they are work-ready by the age of 18.

That scheme was op­posed by this Na­tional Gov­ern­ment, with some suggest­ing it was too costly. The cost for our Youth Em­ploy­ment scheme had a sim­i­lar cost to this so-called acad­emy.

If the cur­rent sys­tem is fail­ing to curb youth crime, then tighter laws in a failed sys­tem will not achieve the re­quired out­come.

Ear­lier this year, New Zealand First pro­posed a rad­i­cal over­haul of the youth jus­tice sys­tem in a new mem­ber’s bill, the Chil­dren, Young Per­sons, and Their Fam­i­lies (Youth Jus­tice De­merit Points) Amend­ment Bill, which will in­tro­duce a de­merit points sys­tem for youth of­fend­ers.


Boot camps and in­fringe­ment no­tices for par­ents are sim­ply dra­co­nian and coun­ter­pro­duc­tive. Trou­bled young peo­ple need to know they’ve got a real chance in life, not thrown into point­less boot camps as the Na­tional Party is propos­ing to do.

They are pun­ish­ing par­ents when what we need are new ways of in­ter­ven­ing early on with fam­i­lies who have chal­leng­ing sit­u­a­tions. These sorts of pro­grammes don’t work. They just turn young crim­i­nals into fit young crim­i­nals.

There are far bet­ter ways to tackle youth crime than boot camps, which Na­tional knows sim­ply failed to stop youth re­of­fend­ing. Go­ing to Waiouru for a year doesn’t fix fam­ily poverty, poor ed­u­ca­tion and other prob­lems which lead to youth crime. We need to tackle the root causes.

Labour has a plan to help vul­ner­a­ble fam­i­lies through our ex­pan­sion of Work­ing for Fam­i­lies. We will tackle poverty be­cause of­ten that’s what turns young peo­ple to crime.

Our men­tal health strat­egy, which in­cludes plac­ing a nurse in ev­ery sec­ondary school, will also help at risk youth. Labour will also prop­erly fund Po­lice by re­cruit­ing 1000 more of­fi­cers to keep our com­mu­ni­ties safe.

Fix­ing our chronic home­less­ness prob­lem, sort­ing out our schools and giv­ing young peo­ple mean­ing­ful work, like Labour’s Ready for Work pol­icy will do, is the stuff that re­duces youth of­fend­ing.

Na­tional should be tack­ling causes of poverty, not boot camp gim­micks... Hamil­ton will ben­e­fit from hav­ing a stronger com­mu­nity.

NZ First Hamil­ton West can­di­date Shayne Wihongi.

Hamil­ton West Labour can­di­date Gau­rav Sharma.

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