‘Our kids are being failed by their parents’
A CHILD protection advocate is calling for greater services to save generations of children from further spiralling out of control, and says youth crime is a product of a failing society.
Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston said state services and the police were buckling under the pressure from being inundated with children who had fallen through the cracks.
"We're all failing our children, you can't point the blame at the police, or the state. The community at large and parents need to nurture and love our children," she said.
"I think our services are all under a lot of pressure to respond adequately, they're overwhelmed and under resourced.
"You're seeing younger and younger children out in the streets and jail is a punitive response. We have to unpick the damage that's happened to these kids."
Ms Johnston said sexual abuse along with disadvantage were perpetuating the cycle of poverty and further worsening the crisis.
"With each generation it gets worse, damaged kids are becoming damaged parents … we need to have more of a refocus on adoption," she said.
"We have to be careful as we know that sexual offenders gravitate towards areas where vulnerable children gather. Some of these kids are in group homes with not a lot of supervision. It is really difficult and complex … parents are failing to adequately raise their children."
Ms Johnston said part of the solution was funding social services that addressed the reasons behind the offending.
But she conceded an angry community would want to see those people punished for their crimes.
"My heart breaks for the population put at risk. We still need to love and respect our children, but that's no excuse for that behaviour," she said.
"It's not OK and I'm also fearful for my own family. The question is how do you respond in a way that doesn't make it worse?
"Jail is the only response we've got, we need to be looking at globally what's working with them (children) and to bring them back and show them a different way.
"Things that work, we need to make sure we do them."
Go to bravehearts.org.au for more information..