John Campbell’s Journalism on Youth Crime once again saves us from the ‘Get tough on crime’ cheerleaders


Thank the sweet Baby Jesus for the public broadcasting journalism of John Campbell saving us once again from the ‘Get Tough On Crime’ cheerleaders.

His must read piece on TVNZ interviews two of the kids that National and ACT want to put ankle bracelets on and send off to military boot camps.

The pain and trauma and damage of the two children he so compassionately interviews breaks your fucking heart and highlights how underfunded and damaged our bullshit ‘wrap around’ services have been left to rot.

As I pointed out in my Waatea Column this week

Oranga Tamariki like CYFs before it and like CYPFA before that and like CYPS before that and like the Department of Social Welfare before that and like the Child Welfare Division of the Department of Education before that, have all failed our young people.

And every version of a State Department charged with looking after the children society throws away will continue to fail us because we have relentlessly underfunded these services with the necessary checks and balances required for protecting vulnerable children.

We refuse point blank to raise taxes on the richest and wealthiest to properly fund child protection services.

Even when a liberal Government like Labour take power, Treasury still attacks the extra funding to Oranga Tamariki as loose and without clear justification for dollars spent.

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For Treasury, ensuring desperate children are safe, warm, fed, loved and not abused is an unnecessary cost on the State that needs extra scrutiny.

…we underfund these child welfare services and allow inequality to run amok and when the damaged children from this environment commit violent acts we demand draconian policy!

The number of serious repeat ram raiders is about 100, 80% of whom are already known to welfare agencies who are the kids from John Key’s draconian welfare reforms that saw kids in cars, state house tenants thrown onto the street for wrongful meth testing and whose parents were incarcerated in our private prison industry.

How will more draconian policies fix the problems the last set of draconian policies created?

Ram Raid news stories make news producers orgasm. They are cheap, easy to produce and present as live breaking news and the kids committing the crimes boasting on social media for notoriety guarantees a self feeding loop which terrifies the middle classes and sets the get tough on crime lynch mob off.

That’s why journalism like John’s is so crucial in the debate!

The perception is that crime is out of control, despite the evidence showing a spike, but in context, isn’t the hysteria clickbait the mainstream media are selling it as.

Post Covid, media coverage of youth crime has exploded. Images of ram raids and organised crime violence has shocked, frightened and angered the country with a 25.2% increase in theft and a 19.7% increase in acts intended to cause injury.

The recent stabbing and killing of a Dairy worker in the Prime Minister’s own electorate has become emblematic of a narrative the Government is soft on crime while the get tough on crime cheerleaders promise terrible retribution.

Aggravated robberies of commercial premises doubled from 2015 to 2017 – from 599 to 1170 – why didn’t the National Government solve crime then, and why do the rest of you think putting ankle bracelets on children is the bloody solution?

Why do we get played like this by the ‘if it bleeds it leads’ clickbait media time and time and time again?

Aren’t you all as citizens of this country sick of having your anger and fear manipulated by corporate media and exploited by ‘get-tough-on-crime’ political cheerleaders?

Aren’t you?

The same tricks are being played to make you think Māori are secretly stealing political power and water, that Willie Jackson is taking over as Editor in Chief of the TVNZ/RNZ and that the Banks don’t need to pay more tax, etc etc etc.

The shit we get distracted by in this juvenile settler country low imagination horizon culture of ours is endlessly disappointing to me.

FFS NZ, focus on the important shit that matters, not the tricks used to emotionally manipulate you.

Thank you John for injecting deeper understanding than the knee jerk on this issue.

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  1. Yeah, and Canada has reported their highest homicide rate ever could it be something to do with the pandemic, yeah, nah oh that is too easy a diagnosis chuck in neo liberal policy and whoops!

  2. Yeah, and Canada has reported their highest homicide rate ever could it be something to do with the pandemic, yeah, nah oh that is too easy a diagnosis chuck in neo liberal policy and whoops!

    • @covid is pa
      Oyez oyez. Add a slew of comments that suggest causes of division and dissent other than the theme the blog writer is promoting and the article is buried the next day and disappears entirely the day after that.
      Crime, disorder, lack of cohesion, ultimately it all goes back to suppression of full and open discussion, the bolting down all understanding of the human condition other than some political or economic ideology bolted on to the religion of scientism with the result that the ‘wasteland’ we now live in is greater than Tom Eliot could ever have imagined and if Yeats thought that ‘Things fall apart the centre cannot hold’ after WW1 then probably all he would see now would be the vast rivers of Hades swirling with human detritus and hear the echoes and screams from the tower of Babel as it crumbles to dust.

  3. The overall trend does not mean much unless it breaks the crimes down into categories.

    It would be good to know the trend for violent crimes and ram raids and the type of crimes that keeps business owners and citizens in fear.

    Also – why can we not have both tough punishments that serve as a strong deterrence right now, while also addressing what you think are the root causes. One does not have to preclude the other.

  4. Martyn, it’s POSSIBLE that there may have been a change in youth crime. But the studies I’ve seen cited seem to be based on children or youths “coming to the attention of Police for offending”.

    That could well just mean the police aren’t doing a good job, or that social services are dealing with offenders rather than police.

    If I were looking at youth crime, seriously, I’d want to look at a survey of the whole population, interviewing those who were crime victims. I’d want to look at what the subset of victims of crime where they had some idea of the age of the victim, presumably assault or open robbery (obviously, if your house is burgled while you’re out or you’re murdered, you aren’t going to be reporting that you were victimized by a ten year old), had to say about the age of the offenders.

    This wouldn’t directly tell us how many offences ten year olds or 17 year olds are committing, but it would give very useful trend data. That’s probably why noone is showing it (and probably, noone is collecting it). You might not know how old the s**tstain who stole your car last night and dumped it burned out on the side of a road was, but the granny who was punched in the face to grab her purse yesterday is no more likely to incorrectly estimate the age of the 20 year old offender who did it as 14 today, than she would a decade ago.

  5. An 18 year old a few weeks ago stabbed a man to death in Chch walking his dog. A few youngsters steal some cars and drive into shops with them. Some other youngsters bash some fellow youngsters waiting for a bus in ChCH. Some dude got killed in the AKL CBD walking home after a night out by some young dudes who hit him in the back of the head. These are just a few crimes on top of my head. All by young people. Many by people under 18, or just there about.
    WE can pretend that its not happening, or that it is not happening in alarming enough numbers, or that it is happening but it is the fault of other people, or it is the fault of bi-partisan neglect of youth by the state and so on and so forth.
    It won’t matter unless we can actually agree that it is happening, and that one instance is already to many.
    Pretending that doing nothing, letting these guys out on bail, not charging them with the violent crimes they committed, handing out sentences of ‘2.5 month of home D per rape, 9 in total for 4 rapes + 1 assault’ is not going to change anything.
    Nek Minit, these children are abusive, violent, adults who now will have to be dealt with. But that will be another blog post in 5 + years.

    • We don’t allow any physical discipline of children anywhere so it is no surprise that when a lack of suitable role models or the necessary support to live a reasonable life is not available that some children start finding their own way to provide. Personally, I think the overblown media coverage will be encouraging some of these people to commit crimes on the mistaken idea that there will be no consequences.
      I am not in favor of beating children & would prefer that all people knew how to teach their children correct habits but can’t see it happening this side of heaven.

  6. There does remain a role for personal attributes. Some years ago, in a different country, I met, in a professional capacity, a middle-aged woman who had developed difficulty with balance. She was concerned that this had been a long term effect of abuse suffered at the hands of her father, as a child. He had perfected what he called the “rabbit-punch”, a blow to the back of the neck, which would daze her, but leave no obvious mark; and this was his regular practice. She attempted to run away twice, was caught and returned home, and savagely beaten. In her later teens, she was able to make a permanent escape.

    This background could have led her, excused her, into a life of anti-social behavior, drug-taking, crime, and perpetuating a cycle of violence.

    But on the day I met her, she was immaculately groomed, taking time off from the responsible office employment she’d held for a good number of years.

    In other words, a terrible childhood doesn’t necessarily lead to a life of crime.


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