Parents as well as others in a position to provide alcohol to underage youth need to be aware of the harm that it can and is doing to young people in Oz. A recent article on Smh.com.au highlighted the trouble that young people, particularly girls are getting themselves into as a result of alcohol.
According to the article there has been a marked increase in the rate of girls jailed or under community-based supervision over the past decade in NSW, based on new national data.
The Justice Minister of NSW Greg Smith has pinpointed drug and alcohol abuse as a big contributor to the spike in the number of girls held in detention centres. In fact the spike has been so dramatic according to a recent Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report, which reveals a 70 per cent increase in the last 10 years.
The NSW data on female juveniles backs up research by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research which shows a 33 per cent increase in the cases of juvenile female offenders in the decade leading up to June 2009, according to the article. As compared to the number of male juveniles this is a staggering number – it was just an increase of one-tenth for the male offenders.
This is what the Justice Minister went on to explain according to the post on Smh.com.au:
”It is believed the rise in the rate of young female offenders under supervision by Juvenile Justice NSW can be attributed to a number of factors including drug and alcohol abuse and a rise in the number of serious crimes committed by young female offenders,” a spokeswoman for Mr Smith said.
The head of the AIHW’s child welfare and prisoner health unit, Tim Beard, said it is too early to tell what is driving the trend among female 10- to 17-year-olds because the numbers were still small.
”This is really fascinating. It [the rate] has come down in the past year, but if you look at the longer term trend it has actually gone up,” Mr Beard said.
In 2000-01, the number of female juveniles under supervision in NSW on an average day was 5.2 per 10,000, representing 193 detainees, increasing to 9.1 per 10,000 in 2011-12 (329), according to the AIHW report, Youth justice in Australia 2011-12: An overview, released on April 30. Supervision refers to community-based and detention orders.
Also one of the reasons why more young women are ending up in detention centres is because they are being charged with domestic violence type offences, this is possible because of a new broader legal definition of domestic violence which sees young women being charged even in situations where they are the disempowered ones, according to Jane Sanders, the principal solicitor at a youth legal centre.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report also demonstrated that while NSW has reduced its overall rate of young people under supervision over the past four years, the state undoubtedly still holds the record for the highest number of juvenile offenders behind bars.
According to the report in the state 19 per cent of the 1947 juveniles under supervision were in detention in 2011-2012 as compared to the national rate of 14 per cent. Victoria had one of the lowest rates with just 12 per cent and Tasmania had the lowest nationwide with just 8 per cent.