VANESSA LAURIE / Stuff
Senior Constable Paul Lampe and Sergeant Dan White have been leading the Big Brothers, Big Sisters youth mentorship program in Taranaki since 2007.
Two Taranaki officers at the heart of a youth mentorship program say its form of early intervention is a solution to lowering youth crime rates.
Senior Constable Paul Lampe and Sergeant Dan White participate in Big Brothers, Big Sisters (BBBS), a program that matches young people with an adult mentor.
It’s a form of youth support programs, like those started in America more than 100 years ago when judges noticed that the same children were still going through the court system.
“The idea is that no matter what’s going on in that kid’s life at school or at home, he’s got that adult who’s going to hang around with him and treat him like he is – warts and all,” he said. said Lamp.
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Since the program began in Taranaki in 2007, over 300 youth and adults have been matched, and there are now 120 active matches in the area – each meeting for an hour a week.
“If we put an adult alongside a young child and they form a relationship, the child could talk to those mentors before they make irrational decisions,” said Lampe.
Program statistics show how effective this early intervention is in strengthening aspects of a young person’s life and preparing them for a better future.
Of the young people involved in the program, which is implemented in 12 regions of the country, 70% had improved their relationships with their families, peers and adults.
And 70% had improved their attitude towards school and academic performance, had a sense of the future, and 95.8% had improved their self-confidence.
Lampe said other aspects improved by the program were “behaviour, mental health, violence and a better relationship between young people and the police”.
White said the program was an effective way to prevent future youth offending.
“All the research points to intervention with children. When they are identified young, perhaps we can help break this cycle that these children are used to and almost immune to.
White said while there has been a drop in crime rates nationwide, there has been a “surge” in reported youth crime, including chases and ram raids.
“Juvenile delinquency is a community problem.
“A lot of it depends on the family dynamics at home. Unless the family is involved, young people will go right back into that environment and nothing will change for them,” White said.
“We’re making sure we’re doing everything we can to stop this.”
Both Lampe and White are committed to the early intervention program, so that young people have a better chance of having a future than being stuck in an “intergenerational cycle”.
“It really takes a whole village to raise a child,” said Lampe.