CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

New Zealand Politicians Target Youth Crime

According to New Zealand National Party leader, Dr. Don Brash, people ages 10-16 are responsible for 25% of all crime in New Zealand.  In response, he announced the Youth Justice Policy to lower the age of criminal responsibility for youths from 14 to 12 and to hold parents responsible for their children's actions. The Youth Justice Policy would include supportive programs for parents to teach and encourage positive parenting, programs for schools to address truancy, second chances for young first offenders, stiffer penalties for repeat offenders, and more effective post relief supervision and rehabilitation programs.  New Zealand law currently provides family group conferences before sending a youth to Youth Court, but the new Youth Justice Policy also would limit the number of these conferences to two.  Dr. Brash reported that some youth offenders have had as many of 14 of these conferences before being sent to court; clearly this is an ineffective measure, he said.  The new policy's parental responsibility/involvement component adopts measures similar to British measures.  The program will require parents of juvenile offenders to attend counseling sessions and learn how to provide better parameters for their children--such as ensuring their regular attendance at school, enforcing a curfew, or prohibiting them from visiting certain places or people.  The British system of fighting youth crime has halved youth crime since 1998.  New Zealand hopes for similar or better results. More... [Mark Godsey]

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