Bundaberg's young crims 'taught how to hate authority'

YOUNG men are most likely to end up in jail for committing break-ins and burglaries, Justice Department figures released to the NewsMail reveal.

The statistics show 49 Bundaberg youths were sentenced to jail or detention in the 2013-14 financial year, compared with 40 in 2012-13.

The numbers cover people who passed through Bundaberg courts aged 21 and under.

Fewer females but more males were sentenced in 2013-14 compared to the previous year.

Over both years the most common crimes for young women were public order offences, which covers several crimes including trespassing, drunk and disorderly and indecent conduct.

In 2013-14 young men were more likely to find themselves sent to jail or detention for break-ins and burglaries.

But 2012-13 was not much different, with the most common crime for males being theft and related offences.

Australian Institute of Criminology senior criminologist Matthew Willis said the areas with the highest rates of youth offending were those with higher levels of youth unemployment.

He said some of the biggest causes were socio-economic disadvantage and socio-marginalisation, or some offenders might have a learning deficit or mental health problem.

Jimmy Swan has helped troubled Bundaberg teens aged under 15 through his program at Flame Lily Adventures at Howard.

He said many young offenders were "taught how to hate authority" by their parents, whom he described as "basically rejects".

"Our courses are far more preventative ... I can help the kids before they get to the bad stage," Mr Swan said.

Just because a young person breaks the law once does not mean they will turn to a life of crime. In fact, Mr Willis said only a small group went on to commit more offences.

"Young people tend to do stupid things," he said. "It's part of the process of maturing."

Mr Willis said there was an "age-crime curve", with those aged from 15 to their mid-20s committing the highest number of offences while they matured. There was also a huge over-representation of indigenous Australians in prisons and detention centres.

Mr Willis said some of the best ways to divert young offenders from committing crimes was through restorative conferencing, cautions and community-based orders.

Mr Swan said helping teens was becoming harder with so much funding pulled from important community organisations.



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