The conviction of a 15 year old for manslaughter for throwing rocks off a motorway bridge raises greater issues than just the tragic actions of the teenager.
“This was a young teenager who, it suggests not for the first time, had been out at night without adult supervision roaming the streets and engaging in at-risk activity including tagging, endangering lives of drivers, and possible gang affiliated activity.” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First Lobby and a former social worker in South Auckland for 15 years.
“This case raises similar questions to the tragic death of the Kahui twins,” says Mr McCoskrie.
What were the parents doing at the time?
Did they believe they were accountable for the actions of their children and other family members?
What were the family circumstances that lead to this tragedy?
Did the family need help in terms of parenting skills, budgeting advice, health issues etc?
Was the family providing a suitable environment with appropriate love, discipline and boundaries for the children?
“While this young person knew his Rights enough not to talk to the Police, he showed no responsibility or understanding of the effects of his actions,” says Mr McCoskrie.
“Youth offending will continue to rise for as long as we tell them that their rights are more important than their responsibilities, and that there will be no consequences of any significance for what they do.”
“The Kahui case and now this tragedy reminds us of the urgent need to invest more time, energy and resources into families. Parents must be reminded of their responsibilities, young people must know the consequences of their actions more than their rights, and resources must be readily available to community based organizations who can work with families who are at-risk.”
Otherwise, there will be more tragedies as we have just witnessed.