An article about youth offending from Youth Court Judge John Walker:
“There is a very clear co-relation between exposure to family violence and going on… https://t.co/ZYwUKszAsv
— WAVES Trust (@WAVES_Trust) March 20, 2018
It is too easy, and simplistic, for communities to view youth offending as evidence of teenagers “gone bad”, of an emerging generation who are hopeless, dangerous and need to be put behind bars. In my view, taking collective responsibility for the plight of those who fall into paths of crime – including for the effects of their behaviour – is a crucial start for fashioning effective responses and lasting solutions.
Recognising that behaviour does not come from nowhere requires us to ask what we can do – community by community – to address the causes of offending and to provide environments in which our young people can thrive, enabling us to reclaim young lives for the benefit of all.
The Youth Justice system cannot operate successfully in isolation. It needs community involvement to help address the underlying causes of youth offending. Communities have enormous untapped resource to help find solutions. Often they just need to be engaged, given information about what we are seeing, and shown a pathway to join with those agencies and families who need their help.
The Youth Court and its judges have a powerful role in this. We know that engagement between courts and the communities they serve can enable local resources to come into the court to help, in areas such as literacy, mentoring and employment training and opportunities.
Rather than waste our energies finger pointing, constructive approaches that involve communities taking collective responsibility for their young people and learning about and then addressing the underlying causes of behaviour are more likely to turn lives around.