Is it me, or are our youth getting more violent? I don’t mean all our youth – of course – but it does seem to me that the kind of assaults kids get involved in are more violent now than say ten or twenty years ago. 

If you know anything about me, you’ll know I’m a huge advocate of our youth, and try to communicate this as often as possible to a society saturated with sensationalised media tales of drunken knife wielding overtly sexual teens.

So I don’t say this lightly.

It seems to me that young guys and – increasingly it seems – girls think nothing of a king-hit here, or knifing there. No knife? Well then the nearest schooner glass will do.

In a week that saw a fifteen year old school girl become the fifth person charged over the stabbing murder of an apprentice chef in Parramatta, I read of a sixteen year old boy stomping on the head of forty-three year old man leaving him unconscious in the street. The attack was apparently unprovoked and alcohol fuelled.

It’s not surprising then that the News Ltd press and Labor opposition had a field day when it got wind that the NSW Attorney General wanted to look at the way young people were handled by the court system.

Smarter people than me have tried to address these issues, citing everything from the media to the fact we don’t have corporal punishment in schools. Some claim that the breakdown of the family unit and the diminishing role of the church in society have played a big role.

I don’t necessarily agree with this. I don’t think we can lay this at the door of one particular factor. Perhaps it’s more a case of our kids being caught up in the perfect storm of varying issues – different for each person.

I firmly believe that rather than ostracise these young people we must engage them and one thing is for sure, with a multitude of factors at play, it’s going to take a multitude of strategies to reach out to these kids. Tougher sentences will not have much of an impact, because after all these are just kids – and if you know kids, you know they don’t think long term. They act in the heat of the moment, and only become aware of the consequences a split second too late.

Author: Dan Haesler, he is a teacher, writer and speaker at the Mental Health & Wellbeing of Young People seminars He writes for the Sydney Morning Herald and blogs at http://danhaesler.com/ and tweets at @danhaesler