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City Cite - Youth Violence

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Sophie A

on 17 June 2013

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Transcript of City Cite - Youth Violence

Youth Violence
The World Health Organization defines violence as 'the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against another person or against a group or community that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm or deprivation.'

Most policy definitions of “youths” refer to people aged 12-25 years of age. Responses to “youth” violence are targeted at people in later adolescence and early adulthood.

The meaning of being “dealt with” can also be subjective, however it should be interpreted as addressing it, stopping violence as it is occurring, preventing violence, and also helping offenders to stay out of trouble in the future. This is not limited to punishment, but also includes acknowledging issues and problems, and providing support and counselling
Definition of the Topic
Is youth violence in the city best handled by the police?
Sophie's Initial Thoughts
In answer to our big question I believe that youth violence in the city is not best dealt with by the police. I believe that social workers and other organizations are beneficial for those that are offenders of youth violence as only in these places do they learn social and other useful skills. Police are useful in the fact that they may enforce fear into reckless youths, however I believe that they might not be the best in helping and providing support for them.

Melbourne is prone to youth violence and it is important to realize that the majority of these youths do have family issues and feel that violence is the only way to express what they feel. These now reckless and unreasonable youths would have been ignored as children so that is why it is important that they are given some care and are shown the right way.

I may even go to the extent in saying that the police can actually make things even worse and are no help in dealing with violence. This is because police also show force in their actions and also use violence to address some issues. Putting these youths in jail or even juvenile jail is useless in my opinion. There, they will not learn valuable skills and it is important that they are exposed to and communicate with other people. In conclusion, I believe that police are not the best in dealing with youth violence.

Georgia's Initial Thoughts
My first impression of our topic is that it would be an interesting one to research and that I'm not sure exactly what does happen to violent youths. In my opinion I think that the police should be the initial ones to intervene in cases and then there should be sociological help for them. I think that the punishment for the youths should vary according to their crime. Some who commit major crimes should go to jail or youth detention centers as necessary and while there get help. The police should be part of it but should not completely control what they do.
Lily's Initial Thoughts
When we first chose our big question, I had a pretty set idea as to what I thought about how the police deal with the violence in Melbourne CBD. Reading the papers and watching the news, I started to develop an understanding of how they follow through after catching these youths and thought that the system that they worked under was fairly organized and fair. When I read about the things these youths do, it really opened my eyes and made me think about how the police must have felt seeing these self-destructing teenagers and what they must be going through to want to do these things. I always admired the officers who dealt with them and was impressed with what I thought they were doing. Since we have looked further into the system of police dealing with these youths, my mind has certainly changed as to who is best to deal with these troubled teens.
Caitlin's Initial Thoughts
I think that police should deal with youth violence in the city, at least initially. They are the people who are best placed to break up fights and prevent any further violence from occurring in a particular place at a particular time. I think they would step in only if it was safe for them to do so. I assume that police take young offenders to a police station and, depending on the crime, take their details, contact their parents or send them to other authorities.

After police have stopped violence from occurring and taken the details of the offender, I think they should refer the offender on to other people who can help them, such as social workers, youth workers, psychologists or psychiatrists. I think police may be intimidating to young people, and the role of police is not to teach other ways of problem solving or help a young offender to solve any problems they may be facing.

People such as psychologists and psychiatrists can help youths to develop other ways of reacting to conflict or controlling their emotions before they become violent, which means they are very important in helping to deal with the problem of youth violence. Social workers can also help youths to get out of violent or abusive environments that might promote violent behaviors in youths.

Locations visited
Federation Square
Bourke Street Mall
Children's Court
Police Station
Highlander Lane Best Western Motel
Have you observed any youth violence?
Yes, yes I have. Definitely in the lane ways on the weekends.

Is it every weekend that you observe youth violence?
Not violence every weekend, but a lot of people that are in the lane way going to nightclub. So not violence all the time.

Do you think some factors that cause violence among youths are drugs and alcohol?
I don't think its alcohol that much, I think it is drugs and also testosterone often with young boys.

Are there any other factors that affect youth violence?
I don't really think factors such as family play a major role however I believe it is just when a group of guys come together and testosterone is flying. They might get jealous over girls and alcohol and drugs are involved. I would've thought it was any other reason.

Who do you think is the best to deal with youth violence?
I think it should start at home with the family, and then obviously education at school and then the police, as a final stop.

Do you think police are more helpful in dealing with youth violence than psychologists or any other experts?
Well it depends, a lot of people may not have any problems, however if there was more education at school and it is caught early then youths are made aware of such things and may not be an offender as they get older. In other words, prevention is better than the cure.

Have you observed anything in particular about those that are violent?
The only ones that I ever see are party goers that are out drinking and taking drugs and getting a bit angry with each other.

Interview with Emma - Best Western Motel
How is youth violence dealt with in Melbourne?
It depends on the certain situation and how the violence actually occurs. If they don’t have any prior criminal history then someone from youth justice will probably speak to them and they will receive counselling or they’ll go to certain places to complete courses. If they do have extensive priors then they will have to go through the normal court process.

What is your initial action when you observe youth violence?
It is the exact same if we observe youth violence or not, we will investigate it and find out what the situation is, try to get whatever information we can and we will speak to the relevant parties. If they are fairly young we will speak to an independent person or their parent/guardian. If we were to interview them they will have to sit in on the interview and then as I said, we will contact youth justice.

Who do police refer violence youths to? Is it just youth justice?

What kinds of places does youth violence usually occur?
It could be anywhere in the city, all over the place.

Is youth violence common in the city?
Yes, the city is more prone to youth violence than out in the suburbs so you do get more violence in the city. For youths, King Street isn’t really a common place for youth violence. It could happen anywhere.

Do youth violence cases often appear in court, or the children’s court?
Yes, every day.

What are some consequences for youth violence or actions taken?
As stated before, if the offenders have priors then they could be doing time in jail, they could be sent to Parkville where they do time there in a juvenile jail. There are also plenty of counselling sessions if the magistrate thinks that it is worth them being educated, then they will go through that path. If they stick to those guidelines and do what the magistrate asks of them, then they may get a reduced sentence.

What are some causes that you hear about for youth violence?
It is a number of things, really. It could be just the way they are brought up or it could be the people that they are hanging around with. The groups that they could be hanging around with could have dropped out of school and really, have nothing better else to do with their time. It’s a number of things and it varies between individuals.

Interview with Constable Albert Mallia
The interview with the police officer gave us an insight into the opinion of a professional, and an opinion of those that experience such things firsthand. The police officer told us how they deal with youth violence. Violent youths are given a lot of support such as counselling, youth justice groups and sessions, and many other beneficial options. They are given a chance to get better and improve their behavior if they are first time offenders. If they have extensive priors, then they may face time in jail. This is surprisingly, a really great way in handling violent youths. Enforcing fear into these youths could be very helpful in making them change their ways. The police refer violent youths to youth justice, which is a government organization which offers counselling, community service and other courses to help individuals. There are many cases of youth violence in the city however there is not specific places where it occurs. The police officer thought that the main causes of youth violence were the specific groups that youths ‘hang out’ with. They are irresponsible delinquents and they really have nothing else to do during the day. They try to act tough, however most times this results in negative consequences.

I believe that the police handle youth violence really well. They provide many opportunities to youths and they give them a chance. If the youths do not improve, which is their own problem, then they are put into jail which gives shows them the negative consequences resulting in youth violence. In conclusion it is a very effective way to handle reckless youths.

The interview with the manager of the Western Star Hotel, Emma, uncovered a new point of view that our surveys and interview with the police did not show. Emma believed that drugs were the main factor causing violence among youths. Our surveys stated that people believed a home situation was the main factor however this may be stereotyped quite a lot. Emma experiences things like youth violence firsthand and she is very familiar with violent youths outside of the nightclubs, taking drugs and drinking alcohol and arousing pointless fights. Emma also put testosterone under another cause of youth violence – young men just getting a little too worked up or overexcited. Our interview also displayed how some people think that education about violence, drugs and alcohol should start at an early age to prevent violence in youths happening. "Prevention is better than the cure" is what Emma stated and this is a good statement, and is found in many other areas of society, including surf lifesaving. If youth violence does occur only under the influence of drugs and alcohol, then it may be easier to solve, and could be best dealt with by the police, however if it is caused because of a home situation and past experiences, then this would be best dealt with by psychologists and other professionals. This is exactly what Emma stated and it is true to a certain extent. She displayed some really interesting and new arguments that were not brought up by the surveys.
From the graph, it is clear that the majority of the people that we interviewed agree with the statement. This could be because of the media and how it highlights the faults associated with violence regarding youths in the city or maybe they have a firsthand experience. Next, the majority of the population stated neutral, to the statement. Some faults associated with this result would be that some people that were interviewed were tourists, thus producing results that could be false. Aside from this, some people that were from Melbourne weren’t sure and therefore, said neutral. The minority stated strongly disagree and strongly agree to this statement. This shows that Melbourne is considered as sort of prone to youth violence however not a major problem is, nor is it a minor problem in the CBD.
With the surveys that we have conducted, our results show that the opinions of those living in here locally thought that Melbourne city was both safe and unsafe and there wasn't much of a majority to one side or the other. With most people either choosing neutral (24%), safe (35%) or unsafe (30%); the graphs show that there isn't an opinion that most people agree on. Neutral was chosen by a large amount of people which may suggest that they aren't being informed on the large amounts of youth violence that is actually occurring in our CBD.
From the graph provided, it's clear that the majority of people think that police are best to deal with the violent youths in Melbourne city. Many of the people surveyed thought that all of the options were equally qualified to deal with these youths but in the end, most thought that police had the most resources and power to give these kids the best rehabilitation programs and help they needed. Social workers were close in statistics with the police for who would be the best to help these troubled teens with only 3% of people choosing police over social workers. Most people we asked actually were against lawyers helping the kids, saying that they caused more trouble than they prevent. 17% chose other and referred to such things like parents and teachers. The statistics we received from the public definitely affect how we think police deal with these youths as now we know most of the public agree with our question.
The results showed the boys having 88% of the votes. The public all mostly agreed on this and this could be for multiple reasons. The people that said that girls caused more violence among youths stated that they cause it, however most of the time indirectly. This is because girls "egg on" or cause more violence because of their presence, as in the boys want to impress the girls, or stand up for their girlfriend if something hurtful is said about her. "Causes" is the key word and in this sense the people that said the girls do cause more violence could be onto something that many others may not have noticed. Nonetheless, boys, as known by their fierce nature do cause a lot of youth violence.
With the data we collected, 51% of Melbourne locals say that locals are the majority of people who cause most of the youth violence. A small minority of people (14%) said that recent immigrants were the main cause of this violence, although some considered the option of choosing recent immigrants was slightly racist. Around a third of the people (35%) surveyed thought it was equally the locals and immigrants causing this violence throughout the city.
People were not sure whether younger or older youths caused more violence. 53% of people surveyed thought older youths caused more violence, and 47% of people surveyed thought that younger youths caused more violence. This may show that people do not believe that violence can be pinned on a particular age category and depends on other circumstances. The ambiguity may also have been caused by the unclear question - people may have been unclear as to whether we meant younger and older people in general or younger and older youths, as in people between the ages of 12 and 25. This may have made this result somewhat unreliable.
From the results, it is shown that the majority of people surveyed believed that a home situation was a major catalyst for youth violence. This could be due to multiple films and documentaries that many people are aware of. An unstable home life can lead the youth experiencing such negatives to turn to violence and/or drugs and alcohol and this is what the public clearly believes. Following a home situation, is alcohol and as stated above can also influence violence in youths. These two are closely linked together. Another factor that 1/5 of the people stated was boredom. Boredom was also a factor that the police officer stated during the interview and it is believed that the majority of these youths have dropped out of school, thus having nothing better to do. All of these factors link in closely to one another and it is clearly evident that the public thinks so too. The minority of the public stated racism and other factors. Although racism can also affects violence, it is not necessarily focused on youths.
People were quite divided in what they thought should happen to violent youths. Almost 40% of people thought that violent youths should receive counselling help, and another 35% thought that offenders should be admitted to rehabilitation to help them improve their lives. This shows that most people think that helping young offenders is more effective and beneficial to society than punishment without any guidance. Despite this, 15% of people though that young offenders should go to jail or an equivalent for youths. This shows that some people think it is quite important for young offenders to be punished for the crimes they have committed. 12% of people thought that violent youths should face other consequences. Responses for this included community service and national service, such as serving in the army. They think that people should give back to the country that they have harmed. No people thought that no consequence should come of violence, and no people thought that the offender's parents should decide what happens to their violent children.
Youth violence in the city is best dealt with by police.
No one else is trained or equipped to help people in violent situations
Police are well known
Police are a figure of authority and are highly likely to be obeyed
Police can refer youths onto others to help their behaviour
Police have experienced these situations before and know how to handle them
Police can intimidate and scare people and stop them from being violent
Police can be intimidating and scary
The job of police is not necessarily to help youths after they offend, so they may keep offending
People like psychologists and psychiatrists can help to discourage and prevent violence in youths before it occurs
Jail can cause people to reoffend as they have very little access to help or effective rehabilitation
Teachers, psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers can dramatically reduce the likelihood that youths reoffend and can help youths to lead better lives
Police and criminal records developed when someone is young and irresponsible stay with them and affect their lives and jobs in the future
From our surveys and discussions, interviews and observations, I have finally come to a conclusion in answer to the question: “Is youth violence best dealt with by the police?” My answer is that youth violence is best dealt with by the police. They are figures of authority in the community and society and refer them to various organizations in order to help them stop their violent behavior. Our interview with the police showed that the police actually refer youths to youth justice, a government organization that rehabilitates violent youths. If offenders are previous offenders then they could be sentenced to a time in juvenile jail or jail. This is a really great way in dealing with such things.

I think that police are the best in dealing with violent youths that have nothing really better to do with their time than initiate violence however I think police are the wrong people to deal with youths that may have family and/or mental issues. Obviously these youths need medical aid and probably are not going to benefit by being in jail.

Lastly, I believe that the police deal with youth violence in a great way and they have all of the resources available for them. They are strong and forceful and do their job really well. Other experts with qualifications like psychologists and psychiatrists, doctors and are best in dealing with youths that may have psychological problems and/or family issues.

I think that the system we have to deal with youth violence works quite well and it is not necessary for it to be altered. The police do a good job stopping it initially but I don't think that alone they are the best way to deal with youth violence. I think that children who are offenders need to have access to mental help and the police do not offer this service and that they also need someone to offer compassion or understanding to them because some of them offend because of their home situation and all they have experienced from their parents of violence and that is only way they know how to deal with problems. Also in the detention facilities there to help them with their issues like drugs and alcohol or anger management courses. In detention facilities they have to go to school and this means that when they get out they have some knowledge and skills so they can get a job and if they have no money are not subject to living on the street their whole life.

In conclusion I think that police are good with dealing with youth violence initially in apprehending the children but cannot deal with it alone.

After researching youth violence in Melbourne through surveys, interviews and observations, I believe that police are the best people to deal with youth violence when it is occurring and directly after it occurs. They are the only people with the training and qualifications to keep themselves safe in a dangerous situation such as a violent conflict between youths, and would be more effective than others in breaking a conflict up and keeping further harm from occurring.

Police do not deal with youth violence cases after they have referred offenders onto Youth Justice. This is important because police cannot give the kind of help that offenders need after committing a violent crime. As I initially thought, young offenders need help and guidance from people like their families, teachers, social workers and psychologists. This can prevent them from reoffending and can help the youths to really turn their lives around, stop hurting others and become happy and successful.

Now, after completing this project, I really understand the immense importance of preventing people from having an inclination to be violent before they break the law. I think as a whole, we are lacking violence prevention or anger management programs in school. While many people are able to learn peaceful conflict resolution skills from their parents, violent parents pass their habits down to their children and continue a cycle of violence. I think compulsory programs should be introduced to schools to better prevent violence and stop people from destroying their lives and the lives of others before they can start.

The general public has some knowledge about youth violence and how it occurs, where it occurs and how it is dealt with. I think it would be a good idea to raise more awareness as to how it occurs and how it is dealt with, but it is more important to educate people about what they should do if they find themselves wanting to be violent and what help is available to those who have been violent in the past.

In the future I assume that the current way of dealing with youth violence will continue, with police stepping in and then referring young offenders on to those who are able to help them better. I think people will become more aware of ways to deal with youth violence as technology continues to develop. More support and help opportunities should be given to schools and students to prevent youth violence before it affects lives.

In our last two weeks here at City Cite, we have had many different experiences to help us come to a final conclusion. I have finally come to an answer to our question that youth violence is dealt with by the police. From our interview with the constable at the head police office in docklands, we learnt information about the process in which they go through after convicting these youths and I was very impressed with the support they give and refer to for these troubled teens. Youth justice is an organization that works with the police to rehabilitate youths and help them deal with issues they may be having.

The police are definitely best to deal with these criminals as they have all the necessary resources and connections with other organizations to help these violent teens and whether they need medical or psychological help. They have the power in our communities and are strong and caring people who have been trained to deal with situations like these. The other suggested people who are considered better to deal with these youths such as psychiatrists or doctors may be good for psychologically troubled teens but for some who just need a lesson in manners and behavior, police will always be the better option.

Sentencing options
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