Youth Crime – Dealing with the Half-Pint Pirates by Trevor Plumbly

Countless Agencies in the Field of Youth Crime

To my jaundiced eye, it seems that there must be more people fighting juvenile crime than there are juvenile criminals to go round. From politicians to parents and the liquorice all-sorts of agencies in between, it’s astonishing to me that an army of this size can’t solve a problem that a clip round the ear might have sorted out a few years ago. But parents, even if they could be bothered, aren’t allowed to do that anymore.

Contribution of Consumerism to Juvenile Crime

I suppose it started with the Beat Generation, the age of entitlement, when luxuries became essentials almost overnight and you didn’t even need to work to get them. ‘No Deposit!’ ‘24 months’ free credit!’ We were almost bludgeoned into buying the stuff and pretty soon, TVs, computers and DVDs became household members, even babysitters. Cell phones and texting came next, making family interaction virtually redundant in some homes. Kids in these situations might interact by playing sport early on, but very few excel, leaving street gang membership as an easy option for socialising, and petty crime for relieving boredom. Getting caught isn’t a problem. Hell, it’ll probably provide the attention they needed in the first place!

 Proliferation of Remedies for Young Offenders

First offenders are assured of a barrage of friendly apologists, desperately trying to administer self-respect by mainline injection. Blaming poverty and family neglect finds more support in the system than positive correction or restorative justice. God forbid the little thugs should fear anything. Police are regulated to the point of ineffectiveness; youth crime has escalated in numbers and in violence, meantime, all those involved in providing tax-funded remedies are still wondering whose loopy theory to try out next.

 Effective Responses to Youth Crime

It’s obvious these kids don’t have much regard for other folks’ property or their victims’ physical well-being in some cases; so, what do they value? I would suggest ‘peer respect’ and ‘street credibility’. Threatening these could provide more of a deterrent than exists currently. I don’t suggest a return to the public stocks, but what about a more direct approach, such as cleaning graffiti or compulsory meetings with the victims in their homes to face the emotional and physical damage first hand. What about compulsory house and garden maintenance for the elderly, with parents required to supervise and keep records for the court’s approval, thus keeping them involved and costs down. Prison tours might provide some sort of reality jolt; it’s hard to be a hero without a like-minded audience.

But why stop there? Other changes could be made. Judges should be empowered, even encouraged, to apply the law in a manner that educates as well as regulates young criminals and their parents. The Probation Service and the entire Youth Aid system should be scrutinised and pruned. Committees, trusts and funded work schemes should be seriously examined to gauge their effective use of funding and resources with a view to forming one cohesive governing body. Savings from those cuts could be used to fund more ‘contact staff’ with more manageable workloads, enabling them to act more as mentors than overworked supervisors. Including parents of juvenile offenders in the reparation process has been mooted for years but never seriously trialled. Why not? Surely they should bear their fair share of the problem along with all of us.

Less Theory More Action

It’s an appalling indictment on our lawmakers that cities and large towns have ‘no-go’ areas, ruled by these half-pint pirates serving some sort of deviant apprenticeship. Sadly it’s not all their fault. We mutter our concern, but continue to believe that the ever growing army of desk-bound theorists will solve the problem if we just keep giving them the funding. The majority of people reading this will probably agree with me and do nothing; I haven’t done much except comment, but if we all did that, publicly, who knows? Someone somewhere might realise that what’s happening to solve juvenile crime just isn’t…happening.

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