Kids’ fears over crime ‘incredibly serious’ and can’t be ignored: Opposition

by | Feb 5, 2021 | News, NT Politics | 0 comments

Startling new research that has revealed the extent of Darwin kids’ anxieties about crime in their community needs to be addressed by the Gunner Government, say Opposition and independent MLAs, as questions swirl over why CDU did not publicly release the research.

The study, which was promoted last week on a national website and by an interstate university, found Darwin kids are more worried about crime and their personal safety than achieving at school.

The findings were not promoted by Charles Darwin University through the usual channels to local media in the NT.

Of 176 students – aged five to 15 – from different schools across Darwin, 66 per cent told researchers their biggest worries were crime and personal safety, with some saying they fear walking home alone, are scared of drunks fighting in the streets and are fearful of their homes being broken into and their families being attacked.

CLP Opposition leader Lia Finocchiaro said Mr Gunner should heed the findings of the research and explain how he intends to combat the ongoing crime issues across the Territory.

“The Chief Minister should be taking the results of this survey incredibly seriously, but it’s not surprising Michael Gunner thinks he can simply ignore a glaring issue and hope it’ll go away,” Ms Finocchiaro said.

The crime issue has become a lightning rod across the NT in recent weeks with more than 10,000 people having now signed a petition threatening legal action over the government’s perceived inaction on keeping the community safe.

“This Gunner Labor Government’s failed policies on youth crime and breach of bail have allowed crime to escalate right across the Territory and now our children are suffering,” Ms Finocchiaro said.

“It’s disappointing when the Chief Minister chooses to ignore our children’s anxiety of potentially becoming victims of violence.”

Chief Minister Michael Gunner’s office did not answer questions sent by the NT Independent.

Research hits home for many Territory parents and concerned citizens

The research struck a chord with NT Independent readers who shared stories of how their children have been affected by crime.

One reader said his young son is still afraid to sleep in his own bed after the family home was broken into two years ago.

“We got broken into while we slept almost 2 years ago & my young bloke & misses are still scared to be home alone,” the reader wrote on the NT Independent website.

“Especially my young bloke. He is scared to sleep in his own room by himself still. He is well aware of the lack of action by Police to catch the perpetrators. I don’t blame Police I blame the piss weak, soft on crime government.”

More Territorians shared stories on the NT Independent’s Facebook page.

“I know of [two] different children who are traumatised after having home invasions,” Alice Springs resident Tracie Hall wrote.

“One 9-year-old boy needs to sleep in his parent’s bed because he is scared ‘they will come back in my room and then steal my bike from the shed again’. [Five] times this boy has had both his mums and his dads place broken into. So innocent kids are being traumatised because of all of the break-ins.”

CDU says politics not behind its inaction on promoting the research locally

Independent Alice Springs MLA Robyn Lambley called for researchers to broaden the scope of their research to include Alice Springs and other NT towns to explore the issue further and questioned why the university wouldn’t have promoted the research locally.

“I urge Charles Darwin University to conduct a similar survey of children and crime in Alice Springs, Tennant Creek and Katherine,” she said.

“I have absolutely no doubt, given the current state of lawlessness in Alice Springs, a vast majority of our kids are extremely fearful and highly anxious about their safety and the safety of their families.”

Ms Lambley added that she is “mystified why CDU would choose not to make this research public”.

A CDU spokesman told the NT Independent the researchers were entitled to disseminate their research how they saw fit and the university was not involved in developing the promotion strategy that didn’t include local media.

Lead researcher and CDU senior lecturer Georgina Nutton said the NT Department of Education was “fully supportive of the research being undertaken and provided the necessary ethics approvals”.

She added she is hoping to expand the study across the NT and was looking to partner with others across the country and internationally to see if the findings are more universal.

“The key focus on self-regulation and executive function [of children] is an important aspect to children being ready to learn and so we are hopeful of securing funds to broaden the research to NT wide as this is the policy and program space we are most invested in,” she said.

“Eventually, we would like to join up with partners in other parts of the country and internationally to see what worries [and] stressors are impacting children in a range of contexts and specific times.”

 

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