Feb 14, 2024

Older people are victims of rising youth crime

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Just this month, the number of crimes involving young people assaulting older people has caused concerns. [Source: Shutterstock]

Australia has been desperately crying out about increasing numbers of youth crimes across our States and Territories – particularly in regional and remote areas – for over a year and no one has been exempt from being targeted, even our older citizens.

Past criminology surveys throughout the world suggested people over 65 were far less likely to be victims of crime than younger age groups but this doesn’t seem to be the case anymore.

Earlier this week, Western Australian Police arrested and charged a second boy, aged 15, in relation to the bashing of an older Bentley man,69, last month after a verbal interaction out the front of his home escalated into a full-blown physical assault that left him hospitalised. 

The other alleged offender was an 11-year-old boy. 

On Monday, reports were released of two Toowoomba teenagers, 15 and 16, being arrested and charged after allegedly breaking into two homes and assaulting a 78-year-old resident who attempted to flee the home. 

The woman was taken to hospital for treatment of lacerations to her forearms and minor injuries.

HelloCare reported on the fatal stabbing of a 70-year-old grandmother by a group of five teenage boys in an alleged carjacking in Brisbane earlier this month.

Her six-year-old granddaughter witnessed the alleged attack which took place in a shopping centre car park with the offenders taking off in the victim’s Hyundai Getz before dumping it. Five teenage boys were arrested and have been charged in relation to the murder.

In all Australian jurisdictions, a child under 10 years cannot be found guilty of a criminal offence. For offenders between 10 and 14 years, the prosecution must prove that the child knew their conduct was wrong before they can be convicted of an offence

Politicians and police are coming under more pressure to respond to these criminal acts.

Victorian crime statistics have shown there was a 24% increase in the rate of incidents committed by kids under the age of 17, per 100,000 of the population from 2021-22 to 2022-23. 

NSW statistics showed the rate of young people being prosecuted by police increased by 7%, per 100,000 of the population between 2021-22. The rate of those proceeding to court for more serious offences increased by 11% for the same period.

Australian Bureau of Statistics recidivism data showed that in 2021-22, the proportion of youth offenders proceeded against by police more than once increased in several localities, including Queensland (10%), Tasmania (17%), the Northern Territory (5%) and the ACT (8.5%). 

Things have been particularly bad in Queensland, with a survey showing nearly half of Queenslander respondents believed youth crime was increasing or at a crisis point. Three-quarters of respondents had taken steps to improve their home security in the last year.

Before she stepped down from the role, the former Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk was put on the hot plate to do something about youth crime rates. 

At the end of last year, the State pushed through legislation to allow children aged 10-18 to be detained indefinitely in police watchhouses due to changes to youth justice laws. The changes saw designated youth detention centres run out of room to house these offenders.

In January, Queensland’s newly appointed Acting Assistant Commissioner for Youth Crime, Andrew Massingham, divulged the police’s plan to address youth crime in 2024. Diversion is said to be a part of his overall approach, which would focus on early intervention and prevention, support for victims and stopping repeat youth offenders.

“What we need to do is determine those youths that are the most violent, and act swiftly,” he said.

“I want the community to have confidence that we will stem the flow of juvenile offending, but that cannot be done by arrest alone.”

At the time of this week’s assault incident in WA, the State’s Premier Roger Cook said there is an increasing disregard for common decency by sections of the community across the Perth metropolitan area but insisted the city does not have a youth crime problem.

What do you think? Do we have a growing youth crime problem in Australia? Let us know in the comments. 

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