Attack cause of violent actions

NOBODY should have to worry about being hassled when out shopping and no one should have to fear violence when going out to a supposedly secure public place.

We can’t ignore horrendous and violent behaviour of the kind brought to the public’s attention in a Morning Bulletin report (Monday, January 8) on the bashing of a 15-year-old girl who was shopping on a Thursday night at Stockland.

But I’d like to think that Rockhampton shoppers and residents aren’t going to be frightened by the problem and will keep some important perspective in mind when looking at ways to tackle the issue.

I certainly don’t seek to minimise these nasty acts.

But we should heed the advice of CQ University’s senior psychology lecturer Dr Alan Keen and get talking to teens who are identified as expressing delinquent behaviour.

It’s very important to acknowledge that the majority of teenagers at the shops around the city are well-behaved and polite, regardless of whether they are shopping in groups or with their mum and dad.

For those who aren’t, there are obviously deeper problems in play.

Rather than tar them with the ne’er-do-well brush, it would be great if as a community we could look at these sorts of horrible outbursts as opportunities to set people on the right path.

Dr Keen points out that teens are susceptible to pressure from peers and copying behaviour, and that if we want to stop an escalation of delinquent behaviour we need to target the leaders of peer groups acting anti-socially.

By educating the right few we could see an improvement in behaviour of many.

There are other questions we need to ask.

Why are they hanging around the shopping centre for long hours in the first place? What constructive activities are available in Rockhampton? Is part of the problem boredom? What’s going on at home?

The knee-jerk reaction is to brand these teenagers as delinquents.

But the problem is far more layered than that. We have a responsibility to properly address it.

It will save us more than money in the long run, when these teens become contributing adult members of our society.

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