Help the key for young peo­ple

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - JARED NI­COLL

A 15-year-old boy who had played dodgems with mo­tor­way traf­fic prayed ‘‘I hope I get the help’’ in court be­fore Judge An­drew Be­croft.

The for­mer prin­ci­pal youth court judge, and now the Chil­dren’s Com­mis­sioner, re­called the case at a Porirua Fam­ily Vi­o­lence Pre­ven­tion Net­work meet­ing in Can­nons Creek on July 26.

The boy suf­fered post­trau­matic stress dis­or­der from hav­ing an abu­sive fa­ther.

‘‘He’d been steal­ing cars in South Auck­land,’’ Judge Be­croft said. ‘‘Driv­ing them up the of­framp to a mo­tor­way. He was play­ing lit­eral dodgems on the mo­tor­way – lur­ing po­lice into high-speed chases.’’

He warned the boy be­fore sen­tenc­ing him that he was fac­ing a spell in youth prison.

‘‘He said, ‘I know’. And then he said some­thing to me that no boy had ever said in the past: ‘Can we have a prayer?’.’’

A po­lice sergeant took the boy from the dock to be­side his grand­mother who was his only sup­port­ing fam­ily in the court­room.

‘‘He prayed the most amaz­ing prayer – not min­imis­ing what he did, but re­flect­ing on his life. He said, ‘I hope I get the help’.

‘‘And there will be a whole group of chil­dren and young peo­ple in Porirua say­ing ‘I hope I get the help’. And you are the group, the key to open­ing the door to make sure they get that help.’’

Judge Be­croft praised the pre­ven­tion net­work as a ‘‘great ex­am­ple of com­mu­nity power’’ against fam­ily vi­o­lence, which could be ter­ri­bly over-rep­re­sented in low so­cio-eco­nomic ar­eas such as Can­nons Creek.

The Whanau Cen­tre in Can­nons Creek co-or­di­nates the net­work. Spokesman Stephen Turnock said his or­gan­i­sa­tion han­dled about 120 cases of fam­ily vi­o­lence, or ones which had strong po­ten­tial of turn­ing vi­o­lent, in Porirua last year.

There was an in­creas­ing fo­cus on work­ing col­lab­o­ra­tively with other agen­cies to work with fam­i­lies, and get a clearer pic­ture of the size of the is­sue.

‘‘Noth­ing could be more im­por­tant than a com­mu­ni­ty­wide ap­proach to col­lab­o­ra­tively re­duce vi­o­lence,’’ Judge Be­croft said.

Fam­ily vi­o­lence was a com­mon theme among Youth Court of­fend­ers, in­clud­ing the boy from South Auck­land.

‘‘His fam­ily were chronic drug abusers. He had been in 32 Child, Youth and Fam­ily place­ments by the age of 15,’’ he said.

The teen, who first got into drugs and al­co­hol when he was 11, was a ca­pa­ble young man with good po­ten­tial like so many in the Youth Court.

ROSS GIBLIN/STUFF

Chil­dren’s Com­mis­sioner Judge An­drew Be­croft is en­cour­ag­ing com­mu­nity or­gan­i­sa­tions, such as the Porirua Fam­ily Vi­o­lence Pre­ven­tion Net­work, to work to­gether against fam­ily vi­o­lence.

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