Youth curfew calls ‘ill-founded and dangerous’

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

 

Sir – Calls for the introduction of youth curfews in Alice Springs are ill-founded and dangerous.

 
Through Jesuit Social Services’ work with vulnerable young people, we know that many young people talk about strained relationships with the police.

 

Improving these relationships is the first step towards creating safer and more harmonious communities, and giving police officers the power to remand young people for being on the streets late at night will only do the opposite.

 

There are many reasons why young people may be on the streets at night, including an unsafe home environment or a lack of appropriate recreational activities. Implementing a curfew does nothing to address the underlying social welfare issues faced by young people and perpetuate already present negative stereotypes.

 

Clearly, the young people most in need of social support will be the ones most likely to fail the conditions of a curfew. When young people become involved in the youth justice system, it can often set them up for a lifetime of cycling in and out of the criminal justice system. We should be trying to divert young people away from this wherever possible.

 

While we value the often challenging work done by our police officers, it is important to remember that they are not youth workers. If we want to truly change the behaviour of young people, we must start by making investments into culturally relevant and accessible support services.

 

Julie Edwards
CEO, Jesuit Social Services

 

 

Be Sociable, Share!

10 Comments (starting with the most recent)

NB: If you want to reply to a previous comment, start your comment with this notation: @n where n is the number of the comment you want to reply to.
  1. Just Saying
    Posted April 14, 2015 at 8:39 am

    I agree with a curfew and safe houses for youth to stay.
    Perhaps the funding could come from “responsible” Aboriginal corporations such as the one that owns the Memo Club. There would be huge profits drawn by the organisations and their reduced tax rate should be tied to them actively contributing to the improvement of issues affecting Aboriginal people.
    Not saying that Aboriginal kids are the only ones who are affected by a lack of responsible parenting. However, statistically in this town it’s a much larger issue amongst the Aboriginal population. The kids need to be supported if we ever hope to change their future.
    The police officers seem to do a great job but their success is limited on the justice system and the resources to deal with these issues.
    More funding could be drawn from carers / parents whose kids need to stay in these centres. A deduction from payments to cover food and accommodation costs. Enforcing some responsibility.

    View Comment
  2. Bev
    Posted April 9, 2015 at 10:32 pm

    Real solutions start with people of all ages, races, rich or poor getting punished for what they do wrong.
    We have some real examples in the drug runners who expect too get away with what they do the damage they cause others with little or no punishment and the do gooders that side with them.
    Also those that think it is funny to damage others property then when they get caught expect a small fine or a slap on the wrist that are part of a system which will eventually destroy humanity if they are allowed to continue.
    If people are not taught to consider others before they do something to hurt them – like drink driving or driving under the influence of street drugs – then what type of world do we have.
    Its the goody two shoes that are so sympathetic to criminals that do the damage along with those that are racist or consider those without money as non human and not worth considering.
    Its about time all people took their responsibilities seriously – that is not to say you can’t have fun but to say that the fun you have does not hurt anyone else.

    View Comment
  3. Janet Brown
    Posted April 9, 2015 at 9:01 am

    Ian, you have the wrong idea of what the current curfew is about. And you talk about the fun things we did as kids.
    I was born 1956. If we could find old prams use the wheels and get the timber fruit boxes and make billy carts.
    We spent time play acting and building stuff. I would go off with other kids and we would take our rifles and shoot foxes and skin to make pocket money. Shoot rabbits for sale. A different time and different dynamics.
    Times change. A curfew today would gather vital information about what is happening with the family unit. The information would then ensure the correct service providers to assist the children and their families. Based on real information.
    As a community we cannot allow our children to be neglected by their parents or carers.
    We all a have responsibility to ensure our children are not neglected. No curfew would ensure our current situation continues and continues to grow.
    We do not need to follow the USA and have prisons as the biggest employers due to the increase in criminality. A curfew could be our first step to changing that direction and save a lot of kids from a life of crime.
    And there may well be some parents who will be shocked about the behaviour of their children.
    Not all kids on the streets causing trouble and partaking in criminal behaviour are from non functioning family units.
    A curfew will assist with gaining vital information.

    View Comment
  4. Nasser Dib
    Posted April 9, 2015 at 6:37 am

    Given the over generous size of coppers these days, one would question if any one of them could lift their leg any higher than knee level.

    View Comment
  5. Ian Sharp
    Posted April 8, 2015 at 4:14 pm

    The only curfew we ever had as kids was set by Mum and Dad, but before we got TV we had a fair amount of time out on the streets after tea with our mates, late 50s.
    We chucked rocks on rooves, had yonnie fights with other kids, leaned muddy garden stakes upside down on front doors then rang the bell, pinched fruit from backyard trees, paper chases through schools, up on the rooves, great fun … got chased by irate householders, we loved it.
    Got caught up a fruit tree one night after my best mate got bored and knocked on the front door and told them someone was in their back yard, just for a bit of extra excitement. Adrenalin rush.
    Cops picked us up one night, kick in the bum and dumped us at the end of a lonely dead end farm road. Long walk back. Told our folks they could pick us up if they wanted. They didn’t.
    Got some strong discipline when we got home. Water off a duck’s back, it was a tough suburb. Then the police started a Youth Club, boxing / footy teams / dancing (we got to hold girls!), and we had better things to do than roam the streets.
    If the cops had gone the other way, tried to enforce a curfew, we would have loved it, would have led them a merry dance, more fun than you could poke a stick at we would have thought.
    Youth Club strategy worked better, we won the town’s first ever A grade footy flag in 66. The cops were proud of us.
    And could take a fair bit of the credit for re-directing our energies. I don’t think a youth curfew would have worked then or now, might be worth asking the cops what they think of the idea.

    View Comment
  6. Heckler
    Posted April 8, 2015 at 12:51 pm

    @ Ray. Many years ago there was a “fresh approach” service similar to the one you are suggesting.
    Aranda House was used as a voluntary safe place for kids found on the street. It could have worked, but didn’t.
    Factors underlying its closure include poor management and a flawed service model. Flawed because while it gave kids a safe place to stay, nothing was done to address the underlying issues – the main one being responsible parenting.
    Tangentyere Council picked up where Aranda House left off and attempted to work with families, but I do not know how (un)successful that approach was.
    I doubt that throwing more money at JSS so they can continue to do more of the same things is a solution.
    Equally, I doubt a curfew is a practicable solution. But wouldn’t it be good to see the parents of those 100 kids on the street taking responsibility, looking for them, taking them home and enforcing some rules around their kids behaviour?

    View Comment
  7. Observer
    Posted April 8, 2015 at 9:30 am

    A youth curfew is a reasonable solution. If a curfew were to be used in conjunction with safe houses, drop in centres – you would create the environment where children being on the streets is unacceptable whilst at the same time providing a solution for those children who will not (or cannot) spend their nights at home.
    On the notion of “culturally relevant” – There is a lack of understanding as to what culture is and its purpose.
    Firstly, do away with the idea that culture is a necessary and defining part of a person’s core. It is not.
    It is a tool that all social animals, including dogs, dolphins and humans utilise to face environmental adversity.
    A culture developed to survive in the harsh Australian conditions for 40,000 years simply is never going to thrive in a globalised world in 2015.
    The children would be much happier with a full belly, clean clothes and the prospect of a successful future then clinging onto a once successful but now collapsing culture.
    Whilst a Jesuit may not appreciate the reality of adaption there is evidently no escaping this reality.

    View Comment
  8. Russell Bray jnr
    Posted April 8, 2015 at 9:11 am

    The kids get the blame and punishment when the adults sit on their ass in the wrong job and do nothing but turn up at work just to draw a GOOD wage.
    The funded youth organisations are being paid to fix shit up because government won’t take ownership and simply throws money at the “problem” then wash their hands of any and all responsibility.
    I can think of several million reasons why the kids aren’t the “problem”. The problem is the “current solution”.

    View Comment
  9. Ray
    Posted April 7, 2015 at 8:53 pm

    Once again, more reasons not to do something.
    Rhetoric and the same excuses we see trotted out time and time again.
    We had outbreaks of youth crime when youth services were fully funded, and we have them again when there is reduced funding.
    We are talking about 10 year old kids out at 2 o’clock in the morning.
    Where do you get entertainment and appropriate recreation activities at 2 o’clock in the morning?
    These kids, at this age, need to be in bed ready for school the next day. Failing to address this is an absolute certain way to ensure they end up in the justice system.
    Most of these kids are not interested in organised activities, they enjoy doing the wrong thing, that’s how they get their kicks.
    Maybe it’s not safe at home but it’s certainly not safe on the street either, and then other people are at danger as well.
    Whenever the social left talks about curfews, they seem to steer us in the direction of the same old model of the police chasing these poor kids, and locking them up in the big bad police cells.
    There is another model that could be adopted, but it would take a fresh approach.
    The youth patrol could be funded and staffed by indigenous people, the kids should be taken home and an assessment made of the safety, if not deemed safe, they could then go to a centre that is secure, and not part of the justice system, where they could be fed, and given a safe place to stay.
    Activities could be funded and run by these NGOs that are screaming out for funds, as long as they provide services at this centre. Parents could then be given the help by their own people on how important it is to give kids a safe environment.
    Unfortunately this all seems paternalistic, but there are other options to the same curfew models we have seen that don’t work. Just tweak them til they do work.
    Graduates of social sciences like Ms Edwards have come and gone before. Nothing has changed.
    What is the rate of homelessness nation wide at the moment? If her ideas work so well, why is the rate of homelessness at a record high?
    We need a curfew. If not something will be done. Be it the town gradually destroying itself and failing as a society, or vigilante action, which is being discussed more and more.
    The elected representatives do not seem to have the answers, but I hope they do start finding them. Very soon

    View Comment
  10. Janet Brown
    Posted April 7, 2015 at 5:36 pm

    Oh Julie, again a sympathiser who in all that spiel has not a word about the victims of these criminal youth. Those bashed robbed.
    Cars vandalised, houses broken into.
    Julie, you find every excuse that has been put out there every time and not one practical idea. All the excuses about why the kids should not be responsible for their actions.
    Sorry your time of the excuse has done its time for way too long. It is time to bring them into line and stop their predictable reign of fear and destruction they happily impose on the people in Alice.
    So, where are your ideas to protect the victims of these kids?
    Not interested in excuses – we want outcomes and based on real solutions.
    Excuses are not solutions, they are they problem.

    View Comment

Post a Comment

Your email is never shared. Required fields are marked *

*
*