Tough on the causes of crime by Susan Grimsdell

What makes a youth offender?

The tough approach shown not to work

I can never understand how people can vote for someone who doesn’t ever spell out the detail of what he (in this case) is going to do.  Tama Potaka has just won the by-election in Hamilton West and all I’ve heard so far is that he is going to be “tough” on crime.  What specifically does that mean?  Shariah law perhaps?  Nobody wants to be the victim of crime.  But surely to reduce crime, we have to first understand what causes it?

My son, and probably your kids and Tama’s kids, are not going to go and steal a car and do a ram-raid. It’s extremely unlikely.  Why?  What has happened to them in their short lives to make us confident that they would almost certainly not commit that, or any other crime.  Looking at the other side, what has happened to the offenders in their short lives that has made them want to steal a car and bash it through some poor dairy owner’s shop?  When they were born they were all gorgeous, sweet babies, cooing and gurgling. 

Understanding helps prevention

Family meeting with youth justice officials

Isn’t looking for the underlying causes of crime the first step towards preventing it?  Is that what Tama has in mind when he promotes being “tough on crime”?  Somehow I think not.  I am almost 100% certain the kids involved in ram raids would be from the most deprived families of our communities.  I think the majority would have grown up in an atmosphere of poverty, deprivation and drugs, where survival was a struggle.  In other words, they’ve had tough backgrounds. 

Tama’s answer is to make their lives even tougher.  Is that the best we, the educated, comfortably-off people can come up with?   Is that an intelligent approach to a serious problem or is it a knee-jerk response designed to win votes?  Which, to our shame, it did.

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