30 June 2008

Career Criminals In The Making

Here are some statistics that make you wonder about the parenting skills of some Australians. To be fair it might not be the parents per se, it might just be the case that these youngsters are beyond the control of parents who may feel like they have tried everything and still not managed to bring their children into some kind of respectable line.

NSW police are apprehending, on average, more than 50 children per week for sexual and other assaults, theft, armed robbery, drug dealing, and murder. What is even more scary in these statistics is that during the period from 1 January 2005 to 30 September 2007 some 7,724 offences were recorded by children under the age of 10. This is one of those moments where you close your eyes and go, "what?"

The statistics were obtained by News Ltd under a Freedom of Information request and show one murder by a 10-year-old, 1,109 assaults and 141 sexual assaults, including 31 by 8-year olds. At 8 years old I cannot even recall if I was thinking about girls let alone wanting to be involved in a sexual assault. I cannot even remembering wanting to assault anyone at that age. I mean the closest I might have come to an assault conviction could have been a punch up or two in high school. But most of the violence I was involved in was good wholesome fun on the rugby field and this was generally referred to as a crunching tackle.

Yet, the craziness continues as the statistics also highlight that there were 584 driving offences, of which 113 were by 8-year olds.

The question is what to do about this worsening juvenile crime wave as for those that are aged of 10 might get a Children's Court date which for first time offenders generally results in a slap on the wrist (this is the case for second and third time offenders as well depending on the offence).

However, for those under the age of 10 the current practice is to call in the parents, lecture the child on the evil of their ways and where this type of conduct will lead them and then release them back into the custody of their parents. Sometimes the Department of Community Services (DoCS) might become involved. Yet, DoCS are woefully under-funded and under-staffed as some of their more recent and public failings highlight.

Former Children's Court magistrate Barbara Holborow said, "I don't know whether it's because so many parents are working by necessity, loss of parents' rights, poor discipline at home or whatever, but something is wrong," ya think? no kidding!

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