FAMILY MATTERS: Solving the crime wave begins at home

Tune into New Zealand’s news channels, and you’ll be confronted with images and stories of youth offending involving ram raids, burglaries, violent attacks, and sexual assaults. The Government now concedes youth crime is getting out of control, and launched a $53 million Better Pathways package which is designed to specifically tackle increased youth offending. The package mostly targets youth education and employment programs to address ‘disengagement’.

Unfortunately, the Government seems to ignore many other underlying causes – mainly the breakdown of family, fatherlessness, and the lack of positive role models. An abundance of research reveals that for children, father absence is associated with poverty, material hardship, abuse and neglect, lower cognitive capacity, substance use, poorer physical & mental health, and criminal offending.

Sadly, New Zealand now has one of the highest rates of sole parenthood among developed countries. It’s almost certain that the majority of youth offenders in New Zealand will come from fatherless homes, or from families in which the father is not a positive role model, or is physically present but emotionally absent.

If we’re serious about tackling crime, we need to include a family approach. Crime starts at home, and it will continue to increase as long as we downplay the importance and significance of having two parents, a mum and a dad, committed to each other and to their children for life.

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