The wreckage of a car that was involved in a fatal crash at Garbutt on Sunday. PICTURE: MATT TAYLOR.
The wreckage of a car that was involved in a fatal crash at Garbutt on Sunday. PICTURE: MATT TAYLOR.

It starts young: Expert weighs in on stopping youth crime

Locking up children and throwing away the key was not the most effective way to prevent youth crime, says a leading criminologist who insists early intervention at a primary level is the start of a complicated solution.

James Cook University criminologist Dr Mark Chong said there was no "one size fits all" solution to youth crime, but ongoing support in an "end-to-end" rehabilitative regime was the best option.

His insight comes after four teenagers were killed in a crash on Sunday morning. They were passengers in a car that was allegedly stolen from Idalia earlier that morning.

The victims, Lucius Baira-Hill, 13, Cayenne Nona, 14, Rayveena Coolwell, 15, and Aaliyah Tepaa-Brown, 17, were killed when the car clipped a roundabout, rolled and smashed into a traffic light about 4.30am.

Police inspect the crash scene on Sunday, where four children were killed. PICTURE: MATT TAYLOR
Police inspect the crash scene on Sunday, where four children were killed. PICTURE: MATT TAYLOR

The 14-year-old driver, who was on bail at the time of the crash, was charged with dangerous operation of a vehicle causing death, among multiple other offences.

He was taken to a detention centre on Monday afternoon where he will stay until his next court appearance on June 30.

The Bulletin can confirm that the driver has previously been under state care and living in residential care homes, and had a checkered past of property crime offences.

Dr Chong said a parent played a significant role in their children's lives, but by the same token were also able to lead them astray.

He said the simple task of ensuring a child had a good breakfast every day could reduce problem behaviour.

The car hit a traffic light pole before crashing on its head. PICTURE: MATT TAYLOR
The car hit a traffic light pole before crashing on its head. PICTURE: MATT TAYLOR

"They are also instrumental in socialising their children into anti-social values, attitudes and behaviours. Parents are therefore, particularly when their offspring are young, the primary agents of socialisation," he said.

Child Safety minister Di Farmer refused to answer questions about any of the children's history with the department, but the Bulletin understands they were all on her radar.

Dr Chong said there was no easy answer to preventing the death of more lives, but highlighted how intervention needed to be followed through to adulthood for recidivist offending.

He said the voices of victims must also be heard and incorporated into policy through victim impact statements, compensation and reparation.

Originally published as It starts young: Expert weighs on stopping youth crime


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