Australia Doesn't Understand The Cycle Of Youth Incarceration

It's very easy to become a troubled teen. I know first hand.

26/07/2016 10:42 AM AEST | Updated 26/07/2016 11:55 AM AEST
"I cannot even begin to imagine what kind of intervention is required to give these children a successful future."

Australia is rocked by the Four Corners footage aired last night of child abuse within the NT juvenile correctional facilities. Children stripped naked and held down on beds in bare concrete cells because they are "at risk" of hurting themselves. Images that cannot be unseen.

The Australian government has come forward vowing to investigate. This horrendous footage which some claim dates back almost a year has caused national outrage.

But it's no surprise to me.

It's very easy to become a troubled teen. I know first hand. The severity of your childhood can often measure against the behaviour you will display growing up. This is not to say that every child that comes from a broken home will be incarcerated, however the correlation can't be denied.

I come from a once dysfunctional home. As a teen I spent time on the streets causing problems. I was known to police and arrested on minor offences. I spent time banned from the CBD of my home town after 7pm.

I have seen babies fed with teats on the end of beer bottles. I have been to friends' homes with the walls kicked in, dirty mattresses as beds and cocaine on the kitchen bench for breakfast. I have watched teenagers have babies and leave them with anyone to go out and get a hit. I have seen foster-care homes with no "care" at all.

But my problems at home were minimal in comparison to some of my friends. In fact, it's almost offensive to attempt to compare.

My background is an extra-mild version of the background incarcerated teens come from. I did not grow up in the Northern Territory. I have witnessed domestic violence but I did not experience physical abuse myself. It was during my time on the street I was faced with the reality that my childhood is deemed almost the average in Australia. Through the mentorship of a youth police officer who was kind to me, I started to change my ways.

I cannot even begin to imagine what kind of intervention is required to give these children a successful future. What I do know is that Australia isn't even trying to understand the cycle. When you appear to be doing something about it with glossy flyers and fancy mental health buildings, you feed the Australian people with a facade.

We are not looking after these kids. We are turning a blind eye. We are not providing sufficient intervention. The cycle needs to be interrupted well before incarceration occurs. If you look at the current options you will see they are out of touch with this generation.

When children are living in an abusive cycle, we abandon them. We assume the government will place them in care and they will be provided with a future. Not the case at all. This cycle doesn't stop at abusive households. We are dealing with whole communities filled with abuse.

I can hear the taxpayers screaming. Why should we pay for other people's problems? You already are. Detention centres don't run themselves. Start treating this issue like an infectious disease. Would you be happy to pay taxes to support the millions of dollars that go into researching vaccines to improve people's lives?

I know where I stand. I've had enough.

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