The Government’s plan to send 14-17 year-olds to an army boot camp is heartless and illogical, the Green Party said today.
National announced yesterday that it would send young offenders to an army-organised training camp in Waiouru, with the threat of adult prison if they do not complete the course.
“National need to own up to the fact that society has failed these children, and punishing them further by sending them far from their family and their community will not make that problem go away,” said Green Party social development spokesperson Jan Logie.
“Eighty percent of young people who end up in the youth justice system have faced abuse or serious neglect, and punitive programmes like these will only reinforce the suffering they have endured.
“Whether you call it a boot camp or a ‘wraparound service’ doesn’t matter – we know that these kinds of responses don’t work.
“Even worse, similar programmes trialled in New Zealand have actually lead to increased reoffending by young people.
“Let’s not forget what has happened with youth boot camps in the recent past, when kids were assaulted, abused, and in one case, forced to dig their own graves at gunpoint.
“Fines for young children out between 12 and 5am is a heartless policy that risks further discriminating against young people who are already being failed by our justice system, a disproportionate number of whom are Māori.
“It is also a frankly ridiculous response to the family and sexual violence which drives many children onto the streets.
“The Green Party’s plan to fix the welfare system safety net, raise the minimum wage, and bring 212,000 kids out of poverty will create stronger families with more positive opportunities. That’s how we fix our communities, not by sending kids to boot camps and fining their parents,” said Ms Logie.