Ram raiders by Susan Grimsdell

Auckland is enduring ram raids, where stolen cars are driven into the front of shops by kids, some as young as 7.  This causes terrible damage to the shops, as well as terror to the shopkeepers.

Let’s blame the parents

Stolen cars used to cause massive damage

There was a column in the media recently saying, “Where are the parents, what’s wrong with the parents?”  Research into the circumstances of the offenders shows that they are usually school dropouts at the age of 11 or 12, with a family background of violence, drug abuse and gang life.   Role models for these kids are older youths who are habitual offenders.  What do people who blame the parents of these ram-raiders have in mind?  Perhaps they advocate those parents taking away some privileges from the kids, when these kids have no idea what a ‘privilege’ even is.  Perhaps people recommend that the parents should ground them or put them in the naughty corner.

Not many years from now those kids will become parents themselves.  Will we then expect that they will set good standards of behaviour for their own kids?  The simple answer is – they won’t.  There has been nothing in their lives to teach them how to do that. 

A decent standard of living

Cramped, substandard accommodation

Societal crimes like youth offending require societal solutions, starting with making sure people have a decent house and enough money to supply the basic needs of life.  To blame parents is simplistic and unintelligent.  We need to look at the actual causes, which we can lay at the door of successive governments who have exacerbated inequality, and created intolerable situations for so many of our families and young people.  Substandard and overcrowded accommodation, poverty, violence, drug addiction, this is the family environment that produces kids who grow up, steal a car and commit crimes.  That’s a fact of life.

There will always be criminals, even from the most nurturing of families, but if we want to reduce crime we need to stop blaming individuals, start trying to understand why and find ways to turn it around.  That’s called taking an intelligent approach.

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