Martine Rolls: Appalled by anti social behaviour

By Martine Rolls

3 comments


The Inside Story from last Saturday's Bay of Plenty Times Weekend was a great read.

The story, written by James Fuller, is about the community work that is being done in places such as Welcome Bay, Merivale, and Arataki in an effort to curb youth crime.

On Facebook, people have criticised us for "always picking on Merivale" when we cover problems caused by children and teens.

I don't think that's true. There are issues in Welcome Bay, Mount Maunganui, and Gate Pa. I'm sure that if you know where to look, you'll find unruly youngsters on the streets of Bethlehem, Papamoa, Otumoetai and other suburbs, too.

What irritates me is that the adults who are supposed to be looking after these children happily leave it to community workers to sort them out.

In Saturday's feature, Welcome Bay Community Centre treasurer Gerry Purcell was one of the people who talked about his experiences with wayward youth in his suburb.

"From time to time you have to be prepared to put up with a fair amount of rubbish from them," said Mr Purcell. "The kids do what they can to rev you up, but you have to stand your ground."

Mr Purcell is one of a group of community-minded people who give their time to improve young people's lives and outlooks. Crime reduction is a by-product of what they do; engaging youngsters, providing role models when they have none and organising regular activities both during term time and holidays.

Gerry said, and admits he is generalising, that the troublemakers have dropped out of school, have low self-esteem, and come from homes where one of their parents is not present.


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I also live in Welcome Bay.

Most of the time, it's a decent place to live but it's not always pleasant to take my children to the skate park, or the shops on Welcome Bay Rd.

The boys and I have been verbally abused and intimidated there, completely unprovoked, by kids that couldn't have been be much older than 12. My boys don't like playing at the park or going to the dairy with me anymore as they are worried they will get pushed around and bullied.

I don't particularly like going there either, but there is no way I will let some snotnose intimidate me, and I'm certainly not scared of their bigger cousins either.

My own children are still quite young and they do well in sports and at school, but they are no angels. They are not teenagers yet, but those days aren't too far away.

What if they start mimicking the manners of the ratbags who roam the streets? How embarrassing would that be?

In another story on the subject from the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend, a Gate Pa mother has her say.

She believes street curfews should be implemented and says police should have the power to order children back to their homes after a certain time at night.

I'm surprised something like this is not in place already. By law, you are not allowed to leave a child under 14 years of age home alone, but apparently there is no law against leaving kids as young as pre-school age out on the streets, unsupervised, at all hours. That, I think, is wrong.

Local Kiwi commented on the story when we posted it on our website. He said: "Once again society trying to look after other people's kids. Where are the parents? Cut the money that some get to look after their kids and maybe they will stop having these poor children in the first place. A life without hope and/or love, it's just wrong but continuing the nanny state seems to make it worse."

Les Simmonds at Relationships Aotearoa is also quoted in Saturday's feature. He says young people are too often made scapegoats when the real issues lay with their environment. Positive role models, he says, do not have to be parents.

"It's all too easy to have a go at young people today blaming them for this and that but we need to redirect that energy into supporting them. Create communities that support young people and we all benefit."

Thankfully, there are people out there who invest their time, energy and resources to at least try to guide these kids in the right direction. It's easier to build strong children than repair broken adults is a saying that comes to mind.

I think what these youth workers are doing is admirable as I would not have the patience for it. I hope it will make a difference, as I am really appalled by the anti-social behaviour I see around me.


 

- Bay of Plenty Times

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