John Cowan - Youth Crime

Publish Date
Thursday, 1 June 2017, 12:55PM
Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

By John Cowan

Hi, I’m John Cowan from the parenting place.

On TV1’s Sunday this week they highlighted the problem of increasingly violent dairy robberies being committed by younger and younger children – some of them as young as ten and eleven. Inspector Dave Glossop was asked what was behind the problem and, straight away, he said “Bad parenting!” He then added, “That’s not the right word for it: it’s unequipped parenting.” Hear hear! Dead right. I recall Children’s Commissioner and former Principal Youth Court Judge, Andrew Becroft, pointing out a list of factors behind youth crime. Drugs, alcohol, violence, poverty and gang culture were all involved but the top factors on his list were all to do with family: especially family upheaval and a lack of good male role models. Many of the problems are multigenerational: the parents of the current crop of young criminals are often the result of a poor family life themselves.

What are the solutions? I fully believe in personal responsibility, but as a society there are definitely things we can do that help. Sports help, schools help and reducing poverty certainly helps. As kids get to feel like they belong more and more to society, they need gangs less and less.

My simple list of things to help New Zealand become free from crime? Support sports clubs, volunteer at school, encourage kids when you can,and if you can’t do it yourself, do everything you can to support any program or person who is working for better families and a better society.

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About John

John has been with The Parenting Place ( for seventeen years as their senior writer and presenter.  He had various roles working with youth and families prior to that but actually started his working life as a scientist in neurophysiology at Auckland Hospital.  As well as writing and speaking, John is frequently on radio and television.

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