Youth agencies claim that the recent wave of youth-led raids is fueled by a mix of excitement, stress and fame on social media.

Orangi Tamariki says that although overall youth crime has fallen by 60 per cent over the past 10 years, the recent surge in raids is a problem.

Director of the Youth Justice Agency Ben Hanifin says they are dealing with difficult teenagers with a difficult background.

“Eighty percent of the children we manage come from homes where they have experienced domestic violence,” he said. “Almost exclusively they don’t go to school, they’re with a group of peers who are like-minded.”

He says these incidents are caused by excitement and fame. Children often post their crimes on social media.

The community can help provide some answers, he believes.

“The decision is not just up to us, and not up to the police, it is the duty of the community to determine what opportunities there are to help these young people look for alternatives to the unrest they are now getting from these raids.”

Rugby League legend Sir Graham Lowe and Hamilton City Councilman Mark Bunting have also spoken out about the growing problem.

In fact, Bunting says he didn’t think of anything else because he heard a group of children between the ages of seven and twelve break into a Hamilton mall to steal toys early Thursday morning last week.

According to him, poverty is a key factor in poor parenting and the poor environment in which some young people grew up.

Lowe would like the problem to be solved with better parenting and support.

Both he and Bunting would like to see the community play a big role in creating the big picture by looking at issues and how to help.

Community reaction

Community groups are ready to step up, but say they need resources. Ideas flow, but nothing is free. Funding is a problem.

“The community has received answers – they just don’t have the money or the staff to do it,” said Sharon Wilson-Davis, CEO of the Strive Community Trust.

She says the COVID blockade has also affected these youth.

“They’ve been away from their friends, their families are broken, it’s just a cesspool, and they’re disappointed.”

She hopes to involve children in more structured activities that are less harmful to communities – as she has done in the past before funding ceased.

“I have been here for 25 years, so I saw amazing results of working with young people. They’re not all bad, they just think they’re bulletproof. They are sad, and these are unprecedented times. “


Additional reading

News category: New Zealand.

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