Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Spike in youth crime in Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Read The Sault Star article then my letter to the editor following it. The letter was published in the paper on Friday, October 24/08. You can view it here until it disappears.

Council to probe spike in youth crime

PROBE:Group to map strategyWill strike committee to develop strategy


Alarming statistics that show a significant rise in youth crime in Sault Ste. Marie has Ward 3 Coun. Bryan Hayes calling for a committee to identify the problem and determine what solutions exist.

Hayes told city council Monday he was alarmed by the statistics in a council report that show 2007 youth crime increased by 28.9 per cent over the prior year.

He wants to better understand why the statistics show the trend, which at first blush, seems to be significantly higher than average for Northern Ontario municipalities.

"Youth are our future and children are our thermostat of the community," Hayes said, suggesting that the community is "not doing so well" and the problems must be identified and fixed.

Hayes admits he doesn't know whether the problem lies with how police keep their statistics or whether the problem stems from the failure of local services and resources, educational system challenges or elsewhere.

Earlier this year council was told a youth curfew would be unenforceable. Council has also declared 2008 the year of the youth in Sault Ste. Marie.

Wardmate Pat Mick noted the statistics don't indicate that 28 per cent of youth between the ages of 12 and 17 are committing crimes; the number of crimes committed are usually multiple crimes by fewer individuals.

But Ward 2 Coun. Susan Myers questioned what the city would do with its fact-finding mission and whether it would be prepared to ante up for the solutions.

"We don't need more talking heads. I'm sure there are counsellors and experts who will tell us what the problem is very quickly but I need to know whether the city will invest financially into the solution," she said.

Myers noted the attempted teen centre failed in Sault Ste. Marie and community services such as the soup kitchen now see more youth seeking assistance.

Ward 5 Coun. Frank Fata said he believes the city has serious drug trouble that contributes to the youth problem. Council approved Hayes' suggestion to establish the committee of council, which will study the issue and report back with a strategy.
October 21, 2008

Dear Editor:

Let me provide council with a way point for its road map on getting to the bottom of the increase of youth crime in our fair city. It might want to start with our local family court and then expand it outwardly across our vast nation.

Gun crime by gangs is on the increase in our major centres across Canada. In London England gun and knife crime is on the rise despite the UK having one of the toughest gun laws in the universe.

Why is youth crime increasing? Could it be related to our family courts withdrawing fathers from their children on an unprecedented scale. Most fathers end up the loser in a divorce or separation financially and emotionally. So are the children as a result. If lucky these fathers will only get to see their children 14% of the time in any given month if they are lucky. There is a nine to one ratio of females getting custody thus marginalizing fathers to the sidelines. Children do much more poorly in single parent households headed by females.

Start there and work your way up. Get stats on the number of single parent households and then relate the crime increase to where the children reside. It might help.

Want to know a way to resolve it. Get your MP and MPP to change the laws so that a presumption of equal and shared parenting is the norm, barring abuse, and watch our children do better. Watch the divorce rate drop and a reduction in teen pregnancies, suicide, truancy and criminal behaviour.

Mike Murphy
Coordinator, Sault Ste. Marie
Fathers-4-Justice Canada

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The work of Fathers 4 Justice and the Pain of Fathers ~ Activism in the UK

Equal and Shared Parenting ~ The Movie