Crime Among Youth In Australia Criminology Essay

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On the 10 of November 2009, the Nine News had released an article about the juvenile crime. About 70,000 young people start smoking in Australia every year and that is more than 190 a day. It is illegal for retailers to sell tobacco to young people and heavy fines will apply if they do, but the law contains no means to penalise young people for buying or smoking cigarettes. Therefore, The Australasian Association of Convenience Stores (AACS) is calling the government to make it illegal for those who are under 18 years old to smoke and handing police the power to issue fines or court attendance notices. This issue has once again led to the argument whether the legislation function adequately to deal with crime among youth in Australia today.

1.2 Legal Background

Australian legislation function adequately to deal with youth crime

Legislation helps the youth to behave themselves

First, Australian legislation help the youth to aware of their obligations under the laws and understand the consequences of a breach of the law. The South Australia legislation had enacted a law to deal with the youth crime which is the Young Offenders Act 1993 (SA). In section 3 [2] , this act is to secure for those youths who offended against the criminal law which correction and guidance is necessary for their development into responsible on the offence that they have done. Under this law, it helps the youth to become useful member of the community by giving them punishment so that they would not repeat their mistake again. Besides, in the section 13 [3] also prohibit the media to expose their information or any information revealing the name, school and address of the youth.Therefore, the information that tend to identify the young offender and the victim are not allowed. This would help to protect the young people by avoiding them to be discriminated. The opportunity of young people to receive education and employment will not be interrupted. Children's Protection Act 1993 (SA) also states that 'every child has a right to be safe from harm' [4] .

Specific court for youth increased the efficiency

Moreover, a specialist court for youth would increase the efficiency when dealing with youth crime. In South Australia, the Youth Court Act 1993 (SA) has provided a specialist court for youth offenders. The youth court is for most serious offences of the youth such as drugs abuse. In an addition, the youth court also has a child protection jurisdiction and hears adoption matter. This act is operates under the Young Offenders Act 1993 (SA) when dealing with criminal jurisdiction. The court only deals with young offenders of 10 - 18 years old. The court also must be presided over by a judge. The youth court is a closed court and only those participating in the proceedings are allowed to attend. In this case, it would be more efficiency while the youth court only deals with the cases which related to youth. The young offender also can request for bail through the Bail Act 1985 [5] and it also will be heard by the youth court. Therefore, it reduces the burden of the other court and increase the speed when dealing with youth crime.

The family conference also will be heard by the youth court. This family conferencing involve families of the young offender and victim face to face meeting. The aim of this conferencing is for the youth to take responsible toward their action. Therefore, the young offender will not reoffend again.

2.3 Education helps to reduce youth crime

Then, education also helps in dealing with youth crime in Australia. Children are naive, they could not differentiate the right and wrong. It is important to acknowledge the children by giving education to them. Education helps them to understand better and helps them to differentiate right and wrong. Therefore, the commonwealth had enacted the Education Act 2003 to solve the problem. This act states that it is compulsory to receive education between 6 - 16 years old. When there is compulsory for the youth to receive education, it would reduce the juvenile crime in Australia. Their mind would be more matured and they are manage to identify the right and wrong which they will not take the rich to breach the law. An news released at 8 of July 2009 in Ulladulla Times says that most of the juvenile crimes are due to the factor of poor education [6] . Therefore, an education act is important while dealing with the youth crime.

3.0 Australian legislation does not function adequately to deal with youth crime

3.1 Young Offenders Act is not working enough to deal with youth crime

On the other hand, the Young Offenders Act is not working enough to deal with youth crime. This act states that a child which is under the age of 14 years can not be charged with a criminal offence. This is because a 10 to14 years old child does not have the capacity to know right from wrong. Therefore, the legislation can not form an intention to carry out a criminal act. This applies the common law doctrine of doli incapax [7] . A 10 to 14 years old offender can not be convicted of an offence unless the prosecution is able to bring the proof that the child understood their act or omission to be wrong. It is unfair in practice, it may be impossible or difficult to bring the evidence necessary to rebut the presumption. Therefore, young offender will be released because of the doctrine of doli incapax although they had breach the law. Besides, it is compulsory of a parent or guardian of the young offender to present in the court then the evidence will only be accepted by the court. But in many cases in a court, the evidence will not be acceptable if a guardian or other adult of a child is not present. This will also caused the young offender to be released.

3.2 Time limit for police interview affects the efficiency

Besides that, the Australian legislation is less efficiency on juvenile crime due to time limits on police interviews. Under The Crime Act 1914 s 23C(4)(a) [8] , the police must not detained those youth that under 18 years old on suspicion of federal offence for more than 2 hours. It can be extended if the young offender is arrested under a serious offence once on application to a judicial officer but this will slow down the process while dealing with the youth crime. This resulting the legislation is giving more opportunity of the young offender to breach the law again. Due to the time limits on police interviews, they could not question enough to prove the guilty mind of the youth which the young offender will be released also.

3.3 Does not functioning enough on Young indigenous offender

Furthermore, legislation is not functioning enough to deal with the young aboriginal offender.

Figure 1: People aged 10-17 in juvenile detentions, by Indigenous status,1994-2001 [9] 

In figure as shown at above, the indigenous juvenile in detention has declined but indigenous people are 17 times more likely to be in the juvenile detention than the non-indigenous people. This is because the legislation in the Australia does not have a specific law to deal with the indigenous juvenile crime. Most of the indigenous people are low educated and the culture different from the non-indigenous people which also might go against the law. Therefore, the indigenous people are more likely to breach the law compare to the non-indigenous people.

4.0 Conclusion

Based on the evidence above, I strongly disagree that the Australian legislation does function adequately to deal with the crime among youth in Australia today. The function of law is to achieve the dual function of law which is the social cohesion and the social progress. If the Australian legislation does not function adequately to deal with youth crime, it will fail to achieve the social progress. Youth development is a part of the social progress which is definitely important to achieve it. It is important that law complement families in their difficult task of rearing children to become well adjusted adults. Therefore, it is important to achieve the social progress by the Australian legislation to function adequately to deal with youth crime in Australia.

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