I was interested in what, when, where and why juveniles commit crimes, and also, juvenile crime is and has been a relevant topic in New Zealand and the world for many years, so I chose the topic of “Juvenile crime in New Zealand”. My main research inquiry question is “What were the major causes of juvenile crime in New Zealand in the past 10 years?” My key questions are: “Who is considered a juvenile in New Zealand?”, “How are juvenile offenders sentenced in New Zealand and is sentencing effective for preventing reoffending?”, “What were the most common ethnicity/ies and age/s of juvenile offenders in New Zealand in the past 10 years?”, and “What were the most common type/s of crime among juveniles in New Zealand in the past 10 years?”
Who is considered a juvenile?
According to “Te Ara”‘s website, “for the purposes of the law, young people are defined as those aged 14–16. They can be charged and prosecuted for an offence and dealt with by the youth justice system. Those aged 17 and over are treated as adults in the general court system.”
How are juvenile offenders sentenced and is sentencing effective for preventing reoffending?
The article “Youth offenders: who, what and why” written by Gabrielle Maxwell on “Te Ara’s” website on the 5th of May 2011, explains, for example, who youth offenders are (ages), what youth offenders are, and why youth offend. I think that the point of view of the source is not opinionated and unbiased, and I also think that the source is reliable because it has a listed author, there is a date when the source was published included, and the domain is .govt, denoting a government website. According to Gabrielle Maxwell, depending on the circumstances, different methods are used to punish juvenile offenders, including: Warnings from the police, Youth Aid officer meetings, family group conferences including the offender and their family, the victim, a police officer and a coordinator, and court cases either in the Youth Court if the offender is aged 14 to 16. If the case is more serious, the juvenile offender will be dealt with in the District Court or the High Court. In 2014, 43% of offenders were managed by alternative action by Police Youth Aid (such as community work, reparation, written apologies, and counselling. In the “Youth Justice Indicators Summary Report” written by the “Ministry of Justice” in April 2018, it discusses entering the Youth Justice System, in the system, and reappearing. I think that the point of view of this source is not opinionated and unbiased and I also think that it is a reliable source because there is a date of publish included, and the spelling and grammar is correct. According to the “Ministry of Justice”‘s website, almost one third of youth were given orders due to their offending. In 2017, juveniles were most frequently charged with burglary (25%), theft (19%) or robbery (15%) offences as their worst offence. In 2017, and 600 youth (32%) were given a sentence or order. The most common out of these were disqualification, monetary, and confiscation, which accounted for 22%, (or 129 youth) of all youth crime in New Zealand in 2017, and also, community work or supervision, which accounted for 19% (or 111 youth) of all youth crime in New Zealand in 2017. ‘Supervision with residence’ (96 youth), ‘rehabilitation and education programmes’ (12 youth), ‘supervision with activity’ (87 youth), are included as other orders. Out of the small amount of youth who were convicted in court and received an adult sentence to serve fully (36 youth), most of them were given home detention or imprisonment for highly serious offending. Brinley McIntosh, author of the “HMA” article “Reducing recidivism rates among young offenders”, discusses the characteristics of young offenders, group work with adolescents, CBT with young offenders, and motivating young offenders. I think that the point of view of this source is not opinionated and unbiased and and I also think that it is a reliable source because there is a listed author, there is a date of publish included, and the sources in the website are cited.
According to “Bennett” (2009), “Current literature around young offenders and recidivism rates shown that in NZ there is a core group of young offenders that continue to reoffend despite going through the youth justice system.” This shows us that sentencing is not effective for preventing reoffending in New Zealand. To tackle the recidivism rate, in 2010, “Young Persons and Their Families Amendment Bill” put forward and applied changes to the “Children, Young Persons and Their Families Act” (1989) to make way for harsher sentences (either residence or community based) for young offenders as well as their families. This amendment elongated the length of time young offenders were able to be sentenced to supervision and/or residence orders, and also made way for requested parenting education programmes for both: parents who are young offenders, and also, parents of young offenders. According to McIntosh, the amendment also accentuated the need for mentoring, rehabilitation, and support for young offenders as well as their families, used for a preventative measure towards recidivism. Subsequently, there was a powerful push towards developing and implementing programmes that lower recidivism rates of young offenders by aiming at criminogenic needs (issues, problems, characteristics or traits of a person that directly connect with the person’s probability of reoffending), and also promoting and teaching prosocial skills. McIntosh claims that there is only a small amount of controversy in the literature that “Cognitive Behavioural Therapy” (CBT) and its variants are the most effective treatment for reducing recidivism among youth offenders. McIntosh also claims that the most economical and effective way to give interventions to young offenders in residential facilities is in a group layout, which I disagree with, because to me, imprisonment seems like it would be the most effective preventative measure of recidivism among juvenile offenders. According to an infographic summary by the “Ministry of Justice”, in 2017, the majority of juveniles (78%) has charges proved, most acted in accordance with plans agreed at “Family Group Conferences”, and a third of them were given orders for their offending, including: 129 confiscation, disqualification, or monetary orders, 111 supervision or community work orders, 96 supervision with residence orders, 87 intensive supervision or supervision with activity
orders, and lastly, 36 adult sentences for serious offending. The number of juveniles charged with theft, burglary, or assault has been decreasing since 2013, which may be surprising to some, but the number of juveniles charged with robbery has increased since 2015 to 2017, which may not be surprising to some. This could be due to the stigma in New Zealand regarding juvenile crime. It has been said that youth justice system is ‘racist’ towards and ‘biased’ against M?ori. According to “Te Ara”, M?ori juveniles are more likely to be noticed by police when they offend than non-M?ori juveniles when they offend. This is another example of racism and bias against M?ori. A few commentators have concluded that communities and the police are more likely to have suspicions that they are ‘up to no good’. Most of juvenile offending is taken care of by measures outside the court system. The number of juveniles charged in court has decreased by 25% since 2013 and by 5% since 2016, and only accounted for under 3% of all individuals charged in court in 2017.
What were the most common ethnicity/ies and age/s of juvenile offenders in New Zealand in the past 10 years?
According to the “Ministry of Justice’s” “Youth Justice Indicators Summary Report”, there has been a huge decrease in the number of juveniles aged 14 to 16 who offended (down from 14,183 to 5,188 young people). I assumed that the offence rate of youth (aged 14 to 16) would have increased between 2009/10 and 2016/17, but I was wrong. The offence rate has actually decreased, to my surprise. According to Gabrielle Maxwell, in 2014, 14-16-year-olds comprised the majority of juvenile apprehension, and of these offenders, 56% of them were M?ori and 31% of them were European. In 2016/17, the most common ethnicity for juvenile offending was M?ori with 642 cases, the second most common was Pasifika with 256 cases, and the least common was European/Other with 131 cases. In 2009/10, the most common ethnicity for juvenile offending was M?ori with 1,555 cases, the second most common was Pasifika with 654 cases, and the least common was European/Other with 504 cases. From 2008 to 2017, the percentage of M?ori juvenile offenders rose over that decade, from 49% to 64%. Regardless, the number of juveniles charged has decreased significantly among all ethnicities over the decade spanning from 2008 to 2017. The changes are as follows: M?ori changed from 2,421 to 1,197 individuals (a decrease of 51%) European changed from 1,749 to 426 individuals (a decrease of 76%), and Pasifika from 501 to 174 individuals (a decrease of 65%). From 2008 to 2017, the number of juveniles charged in court had significantly declined (from approximately 160 per 10,000 juveniles), to approximately 60 per 10,000 juveniles), and the overall juvenile offending rate decreased 63% between 2009/10 and 2016/17, from 761 per 10,000
individuals to 285 per 10,000 individuals. It may be thought that the rate of juvenile crime is increasing but in fact, the rate is actually decreasing, which may be to people’s surprise. During that time, the decrease in the offending rate has been much larger for European/Other (74%) than for Pasifika (61%), or M?ori (59%). The age split of juvenile offenders has greatly stayed the same since 2013, where of the offenders aged 14 to 16, 24% of those were 14 years old, 32% were 15 years old, and 41% of those were 16 years old.According to the article titled “Youth prosecution” written by the “Ministry of Justice” in 2017, (which, for example, provides youth data regarding young people charged in court for official release), says that most youth in court in 2017 were 15 or 16 years old, and that nearly a third of youth received orders for their offending. “In 2017, youth were most often charged with burglary (25%), theft (19%) or robbery (15%) offences as their most serious offence.” I think that the point of view of this source is not opinionated and unbiased, and I also think that this source is reliable because here is a date of publish included, the domain is .govt, denoting a government website, and the sources on the website are cited. This made me wonder why 13-year-olds (who are teenagers) are considered ‘children’ when 14-16-year-olds (who are also teenagers) are considered ‘young people’. I think that 13-year-olds should be considered ‘young people’ too because they are teenagers also.
What were the most common type/s of crime among juveniles in New Zealand in the past 10 years?
In New Zealand in 2016/17, the percent by offence division if the most common type/s of crime among young people aged 14 to 16 are as follows (in descending order): The highest percentage of youth crime was theft at 26%, ‘other’ at 20%, unlawful entry and/or burglary at 16.6%, causing injury at 13.2%, public disorder at 10%, property damage at 8.5%, and finally, robbery and/or extortion at 5.7%. I assumed that violent offences would have made up the majority of offences by juveniles in 2016/17, but I was wrong. The majority of juveniles apprehended were in fact for theft offences. The “Youth Justice Statistics 2014/15” (regarding England and Wales), written by the “Youth Justice Board/Ministry of Justice” on the 28th of January 2016, it discusses, for example, flows through the Youth Justice System, proven offences by young people, and levels of crime experienced by young people. I think that the point of view of this source is not opinionated and unbiased, and I also think that this
source is reliable because there is a listed author, there is a date of publish included, and the sources on the website are cited. According to “Youth Justice Board/Ministry of Justice”, In England and Wales, in the year ending March 2015, the main types of juvenile offence were; violence against the person (24%), theft and handling (17%) and criminal damage (12%). Additionally, “there were 2,000 sexual offences for which a young person was convicted or cautioned in the year ending March 2015, this accounted for 2% of all offences.” I thought that the most common offence type in the year ending March 2015 in England and Wales would have been theft and handling, but it was in fact violence against the person, which happened to be just 7% higher than theft and handling (17% and 24% for violence against the person.) Of the juvenile crimes that occurred in the year ending March 2015, of these, 53% were categorised as violent crimes, (373,000), and 39% were thefts (278,000).
What were the major causes of juvenile crime in New Zealand in the past 10 years?
According to ”Stuff”, poverty has been fuelling Hawke’s Bay’s youth crime. Parents’ unemployment, teenage pregnancy, children’s easy access to alcohol and drugs, and addiction and mental health issues mental health and addiction issues were major factors driving youth offending also. According to Principal Youth Court Judge John Walker, trying to recognise the fundamental causes of juvenile offending is essential. Some of these have been identified: neuro disabilities, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, autism, dyslexia, drug addiction and mental illness. According to “Te Ara”, negative early life experiences add to the reasons for participation in severe offending at an early age. Multiple caregiver changes, being seriously abused or punished, early participation with alcohol and drugs, coming from a relatively disadvantaged family, and learning difficulties at school are included in these. Boys, those who fail to gain school qualifications, and those who have been dealt with by child welfare or the police early in life are more likely to reoffend. Juveniles who do not have successful plans and adequate support for their future established when they go to court or have a family group conference. Young people are more likely to reoffend if they do not have good support and effective plans for their future put in place when they have a family group conference or go to court.
To conclude, by answering the previous inquiry questions, I have been able to answer my main research inquiry question: “What were the major causes of juvenile crime in New Zealand in the past 10 years?”. I think that the situation of ‘juvenile crime in New Zealand’ is improving, as youth crime rates are declining, although there is still room for more improvement. I have discovered that overall, sentencing is not effective for reoffending, because studies show that in New Zealand there is a main group of juvenile offenders that continue to reoffend regardless of being dealt with by the youth justice system.
In my research, I learned new ideas about, for example, the major causes of juvenile crime in New Zealand in the past 10 years, and and the most common type/s of juvenile in New Zealand in the past 10 years. Assumptions that I had about the topic of ‘juvenile crime in New Zealand’ were proven wrong by reliable sources, such as wrong assumptions about the most common ethnicity or age of juvenile offenders in New Zealand in the past 10 years, or about the most effective preventative measure of recidivism among youth offenders. Society has a large impact on ‘juvenile crime in New Zealand’ because many members of society are involved in juvenile crime in New Zealand, whether they are perpetrators, relatives of the perpetrator/s, victims, witnesses, or just those who know juvenile offenders. Money has a large impact on ‘juvenile crime in New Zealand’ because juveniles who are driven to commit crimes by things such as living in a low socio-economic household, unemployment, boredom, or having a lack of basic necessities (such as food or clothing), which can drive juvenile crime. Pride or personal motivation play a significant part in ‘juvenile crime in New Zealand as peer pressure to commit crimes is prevalent in New Zealand, as it has caused 20% of juvenile offending in the past 10 years. For things to change in the future we would need to have, for example, more employment (as the saying goes: “Idle hands are the devil’s playthings”, meaning when an individual has nothing to do, they are more likely to get into trouble.), and less division between the rich and the poor. Solutions to the problem could possibly be to ban youth from walking the streets aimlessly (this might give them less opportunity to commit crimes), or to put unemployed juveniles in pre-employment schemes or further education (which would give them less time to commit crimes), but get paid a benefit while doing either (i.e. there would be no unemployment benefit for juveniles), which might greatly decrease the juvenile offence rate. Although, it would be very difficult to completely prevent juvenile crime. A question that could be considered by society or people involved is: “What could the “New Zealand Government” do to tackle the issue of juvenile crime in New Zealand?”
Maxwell, Gabrielle. Youth offenders: who, what and why. Te Ara, 2011.
Ministry of Justice. Youth prosecution. 2017.
Spier, Philip. Offending by children in New Zealand. Ministry of Social Development, 2016.
McIntosh, Brinley. Reducing recidivism rates among young offenders. HMA, 2012.
Ministry of Justice. Youth Justice Indicators Summary Report. 2018.
Youth Justice Board/Ministry of Justice. Youth Justice Statistics 2014/15. National Statistics, 2016.
Shadwell, Talia. Poverty fuelling Bay’s youth crime. Stuff, 2014.
Sherwood, Sam. Christchurch’s youth criminals starting younger than ever. Stuff, 2017.
Gorman, Paul. Youth crime ‘unexploded time-bomb’. Stuff, 2009.