Youth crime - Prevention beats cure

Juvenile crime has always been with us, but that is no grounds for complacency.

Enough is not being done to prevent the necessity of bringing juveniles before the courts in the first place.

A great deal is being done once they come to the attention of the courts, but by then much of the damage has been done. Many of these young people are seriously messed up by drugs – both alcohol and narcotics.

As a result of substance abuse many young people turn to thieving in order to get money to feed their habits. They are being given a second and a third chance, but surely as a society we should start looking at ways to prevent them getting involved in drugs in the first place.

Juvenile crime is a plague on different communities and causes enormous distress to many people, especially the vulnerable and the elderly throughout Ireland. Why is this happening? We need to be truthful with ourselves about the real causes, if we are ever to tackle the issue properly.

Fr Peter McVerry, who has done great work in this area, contends that early intervention is necessary in the communities most affected. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” according to the old adage.

The cost of prevention is small in comparison with the initial cost of crime and the subsequent expense of keeping the criminals in jail.


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