Waatea News Column: Let’s do something meaningful to prevent youth crime


We have allowed crime drenched news headlines designed for ratings to dominate the debate over youth crime and ram raiding.

The natural anger and we fear we feel towards youth crime is being fueled by corporate media and manipulated by get-tough-on-crime politicians.

Right now we have ended up in a situation where ACT screams ankle bracelets on 11 year olds while National cries back they should be put on 10 year olds!

How is that a debate?

I am not interested in punitive punishment that is counter productive and I have little energy for the blame game.

Our vulnerable and damaged mokopuna deserve better than that, they deserve leadership and hope.

Let’s focus on solutions.

Right now there are 5000 wards of the state and young people in guardianship transitioning into self reliance.

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Wards of the state are looked after and cared for in state funded welfare until they hit 18 and then they are just pushed out.

We have less than 200 beds put aside for these transitioning youth, which leaves 4800 who risk homelessness.

It’s like we are handing recruits to the gangs!

One thing we could do is make it illegal for these state agencies to release wards of the State unless they have secure housing.

That would do far more to reduce youth crime than putting ankle bracelets on children.

First published on Waatea News.


  1. Wards of the state are looked after and cared for in state funded welfare until they hit 18 and then they are just pushed out.

    Not any longer. Young people who are ward of the state can choose to remain supported both financially and emotionally until they are 25 through the transition support arm of Oranga Tamariki that has been up and running for the last few years.

    It used to be when the rangatahi turned 17 they were discharged. The reality is that some do not choose to be supported by OT transition and find support elsewhere – sometimes in gangs. The special psychological characteristics (history of trauma) of many children in care make them more likely to turn to AOD and gang/prison (insitutionalised) lifestyles. It used to be heart breaking as a social worker when one of your children turned 17 – other times it was a god-send.

  2. Can we please look to the excellent research by the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Study re what might help these young people have better lives?

  3. It’s genuinely great that you want to address the problem, but how?

    The facts: By the time these young men are 18 we’ve already lost most of them. They’ve been abused since they were babies. Many have Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or were meth babies. They’ve all done poorly in school, and many are illiterate or innumerate. Their nutrition is poor, and their teeth are rotting in their heads. Childhood abuse has developed sociopathic tendencies in many.

    First, we have to we have understand the cause(s) of the problem before considering solutions. Luckily a vast amount of research has been undertaken in past years to understand the causes and they have mostly come to the conclusion that nuclear family breakdown and solo mothers on long term welfare are the source of much of violent, dysfunctional youth. Fix that and you fix a constellation of associated problems too. Mental health, education, prison numbers etc.

    When I was a kid there were almost no children born out of wedlock and divorce was both difficult and quite rare among the working class. Young women having accidental pregnancies HAD to get married, which wasn’t ideal, but it certainly acted as a disincentive to getting pregnant. Welfare changed all that and now it’s got so bad in the USA that the terms ‘mother’ and ‘father’ aren’t used much in the black community. Instead, they use ‘baby mama’ and ‘baby daddy’. How fucked up is that! According to google, 67% of black kids are now born to solo mothers. It will be far higher in the ghettos.

    This knowledge doesn’t sit well with social liberals and feminists who have for decades pushed through changes to law and welfare entitlement in order to diminish the role of men, but it’s the truth. In a tough neighbourhood it takes both a woman and a man to bring up a child and keep them on the straight & narrow.

    Conclusion: We need to change the incentives to keep mums and dads together.

    • Yes Andrew I think you’re right, but can you see any political party making it harder to get (or stay on) the DPB? Most of what we’re doing is the proverbial ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. The links between fatherlessness, child abuse, truancy and delinquency are pretty clear.

    • “When I was a kid there were almost no children born out of wedlock” That’s because it was treated as morally shameful, and hidden. The young women were “sent up north” for a while and their babies were taken from them, for adoption.

      • unfortunatly if you go by the US and UK experiance few adoptive couples want a little black baby…shithouse but true…though if you have 5 kids by 7 diferent fathers the pill might be a viable option….this goes for divvys of all etnicities

    • “When I was a kid there were almost no children born out of wedlock”
      Yes there were but it was treated as immoral and shameful and hidden. The young women were “sent up north for a while” and their babies adopted out.

    • Andrew, there is some merit in what you say although there’s more to it than that, in my experience of a broken home, state ward and later a single co-parent with a successful enough career and a well-rounded grown up kid. Co-parenting of kids when partnerships break up can be very successful, though it does take two willing participants and isn’t necessarily a safe option for some. Our kids would benefit from dedicated adults able to offer themselves as long term “buddies” to kids, to spend time with doing fun activities, talking and listening etc. I had someone like that as a teenager and beyond (via DSW, they called them trackers back then). I wonder sometimes how my life may have been different had it not been for that man, and one other female foster parent I had age 15/16 before I went flatting (never saw a social worker since). Many of the kids I knew back then (my friends), did indeed go on to prison etc. A couple got done for murder, one was murdered etc. I was given a glimpse into other (healthy) families and adults at a crucial time in my life and it made all the difference for me I think. Don’t misunderstand as it has been a difficult road and I still have some issues, but for me the takeaway was that quality time and genuine healthy love can make the world of difference to many young people’s lives. Our community and political “leaders” need to stop with the demonizing of troubled kids with troubled parents as it serves no healthy purpose. Each one of us can contribute to reducing the harm caused by showing genuine empathy and compassion (if nothing else) and changing the narrative that these young people are “other”. They are us. Our communities are only as strong as our weakest among us. It is up to the stronger members to lift them up at times. A hand up, not necessarily a hand out (though this is necessary as well at times). Our young women also need practical advice about the real nature of young men, and the repeated positive messages that they are loveable and deserve to be respected. Our young men also need this and they need to have it drilled into them that being with a young woman is a privilege that must be respected. Young fathers can and often do just walk away. That’s not really an option for young mothers (mothers of any age). Men do need to change here, and many have/are from decades ago. Time, love, empathy and compassion really can go a long way.

      • I know what you’re saying Sinic because I was in very similar circumstances but in the UK. It was largely by chance I suppose that I went one way and some other kids in my area went the other because I got into a fair bit of trouble as a kid. Maybe that’s why I’m so aware of the issue now.

        If we want to improve our batting average with youth, we need to use social welfare to incentivize the right behaviours. Dump the ideology of both parties and do the right thing.

    • “Their nutrition is poor, and their teeth are rotting in their heads.”

      If this is true within state care we have serious problems.

  4. Do what the Europeans do. Send them to war. Theres one in the Ukraine going off now!

    Or, build some fuckn houses!

  5. Not just youth committing these crimes, often the youth are recruited by older criminals! The alleged dairy murderer was a deportee from Australia and not a youth. Too much emphasis in NZ on the ‘demographic’ and not enough on the actual problem to be solved for everyone!

    Also woke reports that fail to get the real picture and actually are deceptive are part of NZ’s big problem and why with large amounts of money being thrown around (generally along ‘identity’ lines) to solve things, things are actually getting worse.

    For example housing. This reports apparently blames

    “The report acknowledged the historic decisions by previous governments that had contributed to the system – including the depletion of public housing stock in the 1990s and 2010s, that has led to a shortfall of decent homes.”

    Ok, so apparently all stopped in 2010????? What about the demand led by poverty visas being given out constantly for people on study visas and $43k jobs allowed to bring in their families, while knowing that they will be under the poverty line in NZ and charities/taxpayers will have to provide housing for significantly more people on low wages?

    New Zealand’s emergency housing system breaches human rights, inquiry finds

    So nothing about NZ’s mass immigration of mostly low and no income people and families then, (More than 200,000 applications this year alone after the pandemic, with 50% of those applying family members who are highly likely to need social services) even though we have a health, housing, education and social welfare crisis for current citizens who should be getting the limited help available in NZ, not diluting it.

    Nothing about Kiwibuild, that gave away state land to private interests.

    Nothing from the lefties (Marama in charge of ministry of homelessness) worried about government allowing emergency housing that does not have to fall under the tenancy tribunal system for years now.

    It’s the blind leading the blind in NZ, or rather the woke leading the charge to make rental conditions worse than they used to be, with smaller rooms, no tenancy tribunal oversight and pushing people into cramped slums instead of the system we used to have that was far superior to renters.

    Not just housing, we see that money is just being thrown around to anybody with an ‘identity’ that the woke want, and the money just being wasted and creamed off as money earmarked to solve important problems is squandered.

    Covid 19 coronavirus: $1.59m vaccination campaign happened after almost everyone was vaccinated

    Chris Keall: The Government’s Digital Council dies, as it was born, in high farce

    Artists money is being siphoned off and never gets to source… more and more layers, government funding their agencies aka creative NZ who give funding to another layer of bureaucracy, not actual artists, and the lack of trickle down and compromised layers continues.

    Controversial Decision – Creative NZ Defends We Are Indigo/Toi ki Tua Choice

    People are angry because government money is given to more and more gate keepers or just some identity tick, who then don’t deliver while others who need the funding and do deliver, get nothing.

    Trickle down, doesn’t work. And Labour have given the money to gate keepers and the stupid who are incapable of any delivery apart from marketing spin and woke reports.

  6. Another expensive report about the mall terrorist. Nothing reported much in the media about how he came as a teen on a study visa and was allowed to quit and live in NZ without being deported. The woke even stopped him leaving when he wanted to.

    NZ has more interest in protecting the rights of terrorists to come here, (Tarrant hand picked NZ as it was so easy) than stopping them and removing them before they kill and maim people here.

    NZ youth are sidelined while the government reports want to give more and more money to youth coming to NZ with extremists views. We already have extreme views and lifestyles in NZ around Kiwi youth (aka gangs) but nothing real is being done to help those Kiwi kids growing up in that environment – actually it is worse now as they are forced to live with gangs and addicted people in emergency accomodation.

    It’s all woke this and that with piles of money but no real help for anybody especially kids in need. No wonder they are all doing whatever they feel like now.

    OT can save the circus kids from China, but not bother too much with NZ kids whose parents are in jail and get murdered and abused.

    • SNZ, I definitely agree with all your points. It is the blind leading the blind (by the looks of it). Thanks for articulating it all

    • I actually did, but my comments don’t get posted. low pay, lack of housing, shit food is the bipartisan shame of this country.

      • good man. I sympathise some of my totally innoffensive comments have disappeared down winstons memory hole…slow/bad modding is one thing but if your going to censor a post at least post a reason…

        ‘post redacted because(and then a proper reason) community standards etc just doesn’t cut it’

  7. Kids are easy to break and they’re easy to fix. The problem is that our scum politicians with sweaty big business hands down their trousers are manipulating the misery kids either fall in to or are pushed.
    Watching a real estate agent drive past in a $200K+ Rangie when you and the kids are living in a shitter Toyota van isn’t helpful. You want to lay down some blame? Then blame our grossly over paid politicians. And on that note, can I just say, FUCK adern and seymour and their pathetic theatrics. Chloe Swarbrick should be the leader of the Labour party and seymour should be in prison and adern should be looking for a job. Charges? Did I hear you pro neoliberal natzo fleas ask? The answer is treason, of course. The neoliberal criminal element have stolen our AO/NZ and pocketed it. Nine multi billionaires and four foreign owned banksters stealing billions out of our economy in net profits annually speaks for itself. That, right there, is criminals doing crime. douglas, quigly, brash, clark, shipley, richardson, adern, luxon, seymour etc etc etc… they’re not politicians. They’re crooks. And our off-the-rails kids are victims of their criminality.

  8. Lack of housing, food, and all that is bipartisan. Since 1984 some say. Labour started it National finished it. Non of them have the required morals and ethics to change it.
    At this stage the left wants to burn the witches of the right, the right wants to burn the witches of hte left and the kids get castrated, sterilized, feed some atrocious shite called food, live in rundown hovels / motels with gang ‘security’, everyone will learn from Kindy on that sex is work, kink is good for your health, and that if your pronouns are respected you have achieved the good life.
    And the empty suits running this country in parliament, education, business, pharma laugh all the way to the bank while you shit yourself in fear when you see a bunch of kids aged 10 and over approach you.
    But i am sure it will feel good to pretend that this only happend despite Labours best efforts not because Labour no more gives a fuck then National.

  9. When corporal punishment was abolished in schools in the late sixties It was replaced with nothing. Then If you stepped out of line you were caned or strapped. I’m from a good middle class family bought up in Wellington. Went to Kandallah primary. I got my first strap in primmer four for crossing the road on a school crossing with the barrier down. I didn’t do it again. I was caned a few times while at CHB college in the late sixties. Most likely for talking in class. It taught me there were repercussions when I was out of order. For the most part school kids behaved. When corporal punishment was replaced by detention school discipline stopped. The kids couldn’t be touched and weren’t expelled If they didn’t attend detention. I believe society started to fall apart soon after. There is no accountability, accepting responsibility for one’s actions or repercussions for anything. We expect what our neighbours have whether we’ve worked for it or not. The world of kindness and reason was supposed to replace a clip over the ear. It hasn’t and it won’t. Now days parents are no better than their kids and some are worse. Whatever we do it starts at home and school. There has to be accountability for our actions and parents need to act like parents. The big elephant in the room these days that wasn’t so prevalent earlier is drugs. Particularly Meth. Governments need to pour money into good education and anything else that will help our social skills and responsibilities. They won’t.

    • all I can say view is in the UK when they got rid of the whack..they still had DT(detention) and the dreadful running round the school field till you dropped..but of which were fine with me providing the teacher was fair about your guilt…and trust me the school field was way way worse than any whack(though across the knuckles was an unsanctioned and painful rap.
      it’s the parents who changed they don’t want harriet and tristan to have any disapline because they are bad parents..yes I used the phrase but lets put the responsability where it lies….my mum would never dream of going into school on the bounce and bailing up the teacher…wouldn’t compute with her mindset if she had she would have been shown the door…but on the other hand we think teachers molesting kids is a subject for home detention.

    • Corporal punishment was around till the late eighties, not the sixties. And let’s be realistic, the cane didn’t work. Myself and many of my peers were caned regularly, we treated it like the joke it was. We often faced worse violence at home, to men who married women they had learned to hate because they were forced to marry them.

  10. If you knew that if you’re caught, your hand gets chopped off….would you do crime. There, that’s meaningful.

    • TKWW, youth and teenagers are not yet hard-wired to think of consequences. Their brains haven’t fully developed. Your suggestion might work for some, others not. I wouldn’t condone maiming anyone as a behaviour modification tool. It would be counter productive and unethical. I’m sure you were being sarcastic, but there are alternative solutions.

      • Not much youth crime in countries where such laws are applied. Point is, lefties here in NZ arguing hard for no consequences. So youth will learn nothing, other than crime is great. “That’ll be my career!” Now, let’s look at today’s headlines:person shot dead at church, fingers chopped off in robbery…NZ doing fine. Nothing to see here.

        • Maybe another 501? I don’t think the details are out yet. I’d be surprised if it was a kiwi youth with a machete. All our dairies and bottle shops are owned by Indians now. Maybe it’s a racial thing rather than easy target? Dunno

          • Maybe you’re right. But the fact remains. NZ Laws and NZ Judges need to reprogrammed to feature consequences heavily.

  11. Well, that doesn’t help … at all, near enough, Martyn.

    Quite amusing. Someone suggested banning tobacco sales from dairies. The dairy-owners say worse punishment.

    We decided to leave the neediest behind in 1984.

    Our superficial politics can’t deal with reality.

  12. NZ parents are the biggest culprits and mostly to blame as kids learn from them. Here is a good example: a parent that challenges the school rules, like no earrings for boys, teaches her son that rules are meaningless. “Fuck the school for telling us what to wear!” Damage done. That kid is on his way to trouble thanks to mum. Another true one I witnessed: a mother screams at the cops who bring home her 14year old at 3am after catching him dealing drugs. “How dare you touch my son!” There’s another kid on his way down.

    • Yeah nah TK. I’m not violent but had a strict violent authoritarian (possibly narcissistic) father. The causes of violent youth crime is super complex. To try to simplify it, I’d offer this: “well you weren’t looking anyway”. And then some kids are born bad into bad environments and vice versa etc. Nature vs Nurture arguments. In your example, I think the police need to wake up and sort their egos out to have a better relationship with the public. And dealing weed is fine anyway. Meth and Pills not so much. Kids do need consequences, we all do at all ages. But the consequence needs to fit the over reach. Naughty step works for a 3 year old but a hiding might turn a kid into an emotional mess. Rinse and repeat and you’ll either get a a fairly well balanced teenager (if that’s even a thing?) or a very troubled soul capable of all sorts. Remember too that our teenage years are those for pushing boundaries as we come into ourselves and develop our personalities, so solid peer groups are important. As are limits and consequences of course. I don’t think holding parents or anyone else responsible for another person’s behaviour really stacks up that well. It no doubt contributes, but it’s the person who acts out who needs the learning that discipline can teach. The discipline/consequence needs to match the wrong act though, or it can be a wasted lesson or contributory factor to future wrong acts. Hurt people hurt people, until the learn another way. We repeat our lessons until we master them. Jmo

    • it’s a bit of an eeee when I were a lad…but I’ll go with it…when I was a kid if a cop came to the door you’d get a clip off your mum after the door shut…not for breaking mrs bloggs window but for the humiliation of the neighbours seeing a cop on the doorstep..

  13. You make an excellent point, Martyn. Don’t know why I was so wave of hand dismissive.

    Grandiosity. And I’m a jobbing gardener. Just comes straight down from my old socialist great grandfather who even pissed off the first Labour Govt (though he was right, and they were wrong).

    Kids at my primary school in the early seventies told how if they did bad they had to sleep outside at their orphanage. We didn’t believe them. My father was a teacher at Dilworth.

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