Boot camps for all

Dr Rachel Hodder
Insights Newsletter
17 August, 2017

I was nearly ready to blame the Government for all the things wrong with the country. But then at the weekend National kindly helped me to figure out which scapegoat deserves to be the target of my ire. It was the troublesome youths all along.

Even when it was the immigrants, deep down I knew it was the youths. The streets would be safer, the economy would be stronger, and houses would probably become affordable, if it wasn’t for those meddling kids!

National promises to crack down on youth offending with policies such as a youth curfew – enforced with instant fines for parents and an army boot camp for serious youth offenders. These ideas are about as innovative as the Greens’ relaunched campaign slogan.

When all other parties are falling for the cuddle-a-crim mentality, it is about time National stood up to the scourge of loitering ten-year-olds.

Maybe the typical middle New Zealand voter doesn’t fully understand the difficulties facing those who grow up on struggle street. But I’m sure if I had faced that kind of adversity, a stern talking to would be enough for me to pull myself up by the bootstraps and become a productive member of society.

Some experts have been decrying that tough on crime policies are not backed by evidence. Boot camps especially appear to increase reoffending. But if taking problem youths away from their social support networks and surrounding them with other youth offenders isn’t a recipe for successful rehabilitation, then I don’t know what is. Certainly, none of this namby-pamby restorative justice nonsense.

The social investment approach is all about discarding evidence when it doesn’t support the worldview of the governing party’s voter base, right?

Sure, the statistics say that youth offending has decreased dramatically over the past two decades, but I still see hooded miscreants on almost every street corner. What good is evidence-based policy if it doesn’t take into account the evidence I see with my own two eyes?

The only problem with National’s policy is that it doesn’t go far enough. Perhaps a boot camp for young troublemakers in parliament might make them think twice before illegally recording their colleagues or colluding with foreign political parties.

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