Is it just me or does everyone think we can’t arrest our way out of all society’s ills?

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Is it just me or does everyone think we can’t arrest our way out of all society’s ills?

Is it just me or does everyone think we can’t arrest our way out of all society’s ills?

There are calls for 24 hour surveillance of the Maroochydore bus stop outside Sunshine Plaza and more police intervention to deal with growing street crime. We took calls on the radio from people who are scared to use the bus stop and I received one very sad email from a woman who cares for young people with a disability. She claims her clients are routinely teased and terrorised by the kids at the bus stop.

I also took a call from police A/Superintendent Jason Overland. He and I have been friends for a while and he asked me to look at the problem from a different point of view. He said the Queensland Police Service see these young people as vulnerable and the police, along with agencies like IFYS are committed to changing the trajectory of their lives. Sunshine Coast Police and other partner agencies will trial a new initiative, Project Booyah, designed to steer these vulnerable young people away from activities that get them in to trouble.

He reminded me it’s not a crime for kids to sit together at a bus stop or interact with other public transport users. He says these kids come from very challenging backgrounds, they don’t feel part of the broader community and getting together is the only time they feel like they belong. Jason Overland says rather than just arresting young people, which research suggests leads to more offending, we need to provide vulnerable young people with opportunities to create a better future for themselves. If we don’t, they won’t magically disappear. They are human beings who are part of our community. We either engage with them now or suffer the consequences.

Dealing with kids is challenging and there’s a scientific reason for it. Neuroscience proves the frontal lobe, which governs problem solving and judgment, isn’t fully developed until a youth is in their mid-20s and in some cases even later. In happy middle class homes, parents help regulate the fight or flight impulse, we are close by when our child acts impulsively or makes a terrible decision, we fight for them and counsel them. Most of all, we love them. The kids in juvenile justice don’t have parents like that. We can label them gangs and demand they are arrested but the fact is, they are children, and what they have already faced in their lives is simply not fair.

We all have the right to feel safe. A/Superintendent Overland says the violence at the bus stop this week is unacceptable but an isolated incident and the CPIU are investigating. For the young people not involved he is asking the public for more time to work with them, to get to the root cause of their issues and be part of positive change.

Caroline xx

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