Create Heroes not Villains

Jail can cause great harm to children. In Australia 10 yo children can be arrested, charged and jailed. We know incarcerating children does not reduce crime, is extremely costly and increases the chances of children re-offending x3. Is there a better way? Read more about why children are in jail and what alternatives exist. NPYWC Directors ask the Australian Government to #RaiseTheAge of incarcerated children from age 10 to 14 in line with UN recommendations.

Who are the children in jail?
65% of children in jail (aged 10-13) are Aboriginal. Research shows children in jail are already struggling with a range of life situations and health issues, that have not been adequately addressed.
We know that incarcerated children are more likely to have:

  • intellectual disabilities
  • low levels of education
  • poor mental and physical health
  • engage in substance abuse
  • been exposed to violence and other mistreatment
  • been placed in foster care

NPYWC Director, Wanatjura Lewis at 10 years old (check dress)

In Australia it costs $1579 / day per child or $539 million dollars annually to keep in youth detention (2018/19, Productivity Commission). Is there a more effective way of reducing crime and increasing children’s welfare that are cost effective?

When we invest early on in children, families and communities reap the rewards.
Investing in the welfare of children and families is good for everyone. Holistic and community based programs that work with the complex issues causing children to fall through the cracks, can prevent a children heading down the terrifying path of detention and jail.

A good start is growing preventative programs that provide support for:

  • families to care for children with intellectual disabilities
  • boys/young men to better understand and manage their violent behaviour, and support for families and men to deal with domestic violence
  • programs like NPYWC’s Walytjapiti team that work with families to prevent children being removed from their family and culture
  • appropriate resourced and culturally relevant mental health and well-being programs.

“It’s not a matter of ignoring that behaviour and doing nothing, it’s a matter of rethinking how we approach those problems in a way that’s more constructive,” University of Technology Sydney criminology professor Chris Cunneen.

NPYWC Chairperson, Yanyi Bandicha at 10 years old

“When they take young people to jail, they think oh well I will just do bad things again, I have been to jail before and I know I can go again. They will keep doing the wrong things and go back to jail then more bad things will grow in them over and over again.” Yanyi Bandicha NPYWC Chairperson.

Read more about NPYWC’s plea to raise the criminal age of children here

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