OPINION: The real story behind Chinchilla’s youth crime problem
ON A weekly basis I feel a sense of De Ja Vu when writing the details of the various crimes being committed in the Chinchilla and Miles region - cars stolen, unlocked homes robbed and lives devastated.
It’s when I speak to the victims of these crimes when I’m shocked back into reality - I’m confronted by the pain, terror, frustration, and heartbreak of those directly affected by youth crime.
One victim I spoke to, a widow who lived alone, had her car stolen in the weeks leading up to Christmas in 2019.
Just weeks after her partner’s passing and moving to a new town, the car was stolen while she slept. At as loss and feeling utterly violated, she took down her Christmas decorations and packed them away in a box - that was it, Christmas was cancelled, the whole year was cancelled. An already grieving woman had been left violated and mentally exhausted by faceless criminals.
But who are the people - the youths - committing these crimes, and why?
It’s easy to demonise those who break the law and cause others pain through their actions, what’s hard, is to come to terms with the real problems leading troubled youth down the path of crime.
Time and time again I’ve seen select members of the community offer up draconian punishments as a solution, as hate and racial discrimination rear their ugly heads within the community during times of fear and stress.
A lot of fingers have been pointed at the youth justice system, although if imprisonment doesn’t deter adults from crime, it’s not going to help developing minds either.
It’s time to take a positive step forward, and the pieces of the incredibly complex puzzle that is youth crime, is already being put into place by the likes of Chinchilla police liaison officer Robyn Jennings and other dedicated members of the community who are keen to make a difference.
To make real and lasting change in youth crime, the core issues that lead to the offending need to be addressed, and that change is needed on all fronts - from individual mindsets, to community organisations, parents taking responsibility of their kids and government funded support programs.
This youth crime campaign will bring to the forefront issues that lead at-risk youth to reoffending, and highlight the work being done within the community to support teenage offenders, and hopefully make a dent in the crime rate.
At this point, we as a community can’t keep on the path we’re going down.