August 25, 2020
Cultural element missing in child offender system
The Children’s Commissioner says a system which is supposed to deal with very young offenders isn’t working.
Andrew Becroft says the specialised system for children aged 10 to 13 takes a welfare rather than a criminal justice approach.
But too many children are not getting the kind of support that might stop their offending, and some become serious youth offenders who come into the youth justice system once they turn 14.
Children with offending behaviour are too frequently disconnected from education, and while most children in this cohort are Māori, culturally appropriate responses from Oranga Tamariki were poor and need to improve.
Commissioner Becroft recommends the system be simplified and better resourced so it can work better to support children who offend and their families.
He is also calling for the minimum age of criminal responsibility be raised from 10 years to 14, in line with the recommendations from the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.
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