We have a situation in South Auckland and other parts of New Zealand that is the seed that will grow into the riots we have seen on our TV screens from the USA; namely LA. Maybe it is on a much smaller scale and the impetus for such a riot is not as strong but we need to pay attention to the causes now.
It is well known that a large number of our young people are neither in work nor in training. They have no investment in a future and when that happens and numbers approach 20% plus of that segment of our population in several areas of New Zealand, then if you add a few other factors like drug and alcohol fuelled anger then the fuses are ready to be lit.
Toughening up is the usual response, just like we have seen re the ‘boy racers’ in Christchurch. That can work for a while but unless the symptoms are addressed, then we risk our streets becoming battle grounds between disaffected youths (and other already marginalized groups) and the police.
The politicians will scream at one another in Parliament but that will not solve the problem. The fact that young people are not part of the system and have ‘time’ on their hands is a powerful impetus to violence on the streets. Let’s face it; we can’t lock them all up. We have to engage with our young people and give them hope to replace the hopelessness they now feel. We must act now, before society as a whole becomes the Victim to its own uncaring attitude. It is much cheaper to spend the money on ‘training and engagement’ programmes than building prisons and paying the compensation to the injured that will result from non-action.
It is a problem for all of us and trying to hide behind our smugness and sense of, ‘Well I’m OK, so why can’t they do what I did?’ will serve us as a nation.