10 Aug 2012

Crime news encourages young offenders - claim.

10:08 am on 10 August 2012

A group formed to encourage debate about the youth justice system has been told the media's emphasis on crime news encourages young offenders.

The group, Just Speak, started in Wellington last year and has now been launched in Auckland.

University student - and former criminal - Fafete Taito told the forum that in his experience, some media reports can encourage young people to commit crimes in order to achieve "fame".

"You're the man bro - you did this, you're bad..."

"Young people now, you know they just love to get their names in the paper," he says.

"The worse crime they do out there, the greater the odds that it's going to get into the paper," he says. "It raises your profile".

A clinical psychologist specialising in children, Dr Ian Lambie, told the meeting that the media gives too much attention to negative stories about young people.

He says the media can be used as a tool by some young offenders to gain credit with their peers: "It's rare but it certainly does take place".

The way the media portrays youth and crime is too sensationalised and needs to change.

Media reports highlight high rates of suicide, mental ill health, youth offending and stories about young people driving cars badly: "I think we need to hear the other side of the story and have a far more balanced approach," he says.