Fining parents won’t solve youth crime says Lindsay Wegener, the head of child protection peak body PeakCare. His comments follow the Queensland Police Union President’s call for parents of young offenders to have their welfare payments stopped.
“Most young people who are in contact with the youth justice system have also been in contact with the child protection system,” says Lindsay. “This means that many are not with their parents or there are often significant problems in their relationship if they are.
“Excessive punishment through fining parents would further exacerbate tensions that already exist and further damage the relationship with their parents. It won’t solve problems with youth crime.
“There are good programs that are working well and the focus should be on building on their success rather than adopting schemes that have been found to do more harm than good.
“It would be much better if the Police Union promoted successful Queensland Police initiatives such as the system of cautioning young people. This system was pioneered by Queensland Police and has resulted in a large majority of young people having no further contact with the justice system after being cautioned.
“The best way to get tough on crime is to be tough on the causes. Young people do need to be held to account for their behaviours but in ways that allow them to be rehabilitated, not placed on a fast track into the adult criminal justice system and an almost guaranteed lifetime of crime.
“The statistics clearly show there is no massive youth crime wave happening. The overall number of young people involved in committing offences has been steadily declining for several years. There is however a very small number of young people who repeatedly commit offences. Services should be provided to them sooner before their behaviours escalate.
“Victims of youth crime want young people to be held to account. They also don’t want it to happen again and they want young people diverted from further crime. Many no longer accept beat-up stories of rampant youth crime and would prefer money be spent on schools, health care and creating jobs for young people instead of quick-fix solutions such as building more youth detention centres and prisons.
“The statistics are very clear. Most young people grow out of crime by the time they become adults. Our job is to help them grow out of it as quickly as possible,” says Lindsay.
Lindsay Wegener is Executive of PeakCare Queensland and a former manager and director of youth detention centres in Queensland.
Lindsay Wegener, Executive Director, PeakCare, 0437 726 192
Mark Jeffery, Media and Communications Manager, 0419 732 583