YOUTH CRIME: Expert says ‘Band-Aid solution’ not the answer
FOLLOWING Liberal National Party leader Deb Frecklington's comments about youth crime in the South Burnett this week, the Times contacted an expert in the field to discuss the issue.
"When we are talking about youth crime in general there are lots of different things that could potentially explain why youth are engaging in crime and why we see particular trends," University of Queensland senior lecturer in criminology and sociology, Dr Suzanna Fay-Ramirez, said.
Dr Fay-Ramirez said there was a clear line connecting patterns of unemployment and crime in general and explained that when it came to areas such as the South Burnett, there were a number of social factors that contributed to youth crime rates.
"Studies show unemployment and uncertainty with the economy can affect youth crime statistics and crime in general, so you really have to take a look at what's currently going on in the region on a much deeper social level to begin to understand youth crime," she said.
When it came to rehabilitation, Dr Fay-Ramirez said it was a matter of tackling the issue at the root.
"There's a lot of evidence that shows youth detention is not the answer to youth crime, and in most cases early intervention is really something that needs to happen outside the courtroom.
"For youth in particular, the connection between education and employment is an important one.
"We have a lot of research that suggests youth who are more engaged in school are often not participating in criminal behaviour and activities.
"But when we've got a system there's a lot of uncertainty around employment and the services that are available for youth that can create a flow-on effect, particularly for the youth that are already coming from disadvantaged backgrounds."
Dr Fay-Ramirez said providing more secure services for regional areas such as the South Burnett was important to help tackle the crime issue.
"Youth crime is something that's been a problem in every society, it's not anything new, but I think there needs to be a good understanding of what that problem really is, where it is coming from and what it looks like in our society right now before throwing what I would call a Band-Aid solution on the problem," she said.