Happy New Year! I hope you've enjoyed a break and are feeling the slightly easier energy 2017 seems to have manifested for us.
I went to the movies the other evening. An unusual event — it's always a bit of a lottery so I tend to wait until they turn up on Netflix or Apple TV so if I make a mistake I can stop it and move on. Unfortunately, I lost the lottery with Passengers — one star from me.
The arrest of 12 and 13 year old boys for aggravated robbery and murder respectively in West Auckland a couple of weeks ago highlights a growing malaise in society. The incident itself is a tragedy for the victim and his family, but what is alarming to me is that the two offending boys are victims too — of whatever circumstances led them to offend and now, potentially, of the justice system as well.
The bi-polarity of the justice system, which recognises only victim and offender, clearly fails children in these situations. The stories of those like twelve-year-old Bailey Kurariki (NZ 2001), James Bulger's ten-year-old killers (UK 1993) and eleven-year-old Mary Bell (UK 1968), all of whom were charged and sentenced, point toward a "punishment system" that in no way takes into consideration that these children were too young to be held solely responsible for their actions.
A system that believes kids can be guilty of violent crimes without asking, "How did they become capable of violent crimes?", is one that lacks empathy and compassion. Having empathy and compassion for the kids does not diminish feeling for the victims. It simply acknowledges the existence of complex situations that don't follow "victim/perpetrator" patterns.
I presented this workshop: "Individualised Funding: Systems Not Services; People Not Process", at Imagine Better's Individualised Funding conference this week.
More reflections to come.