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Arming retailers is a dumb idea and this is why

This isn’t going to sound politically correct for people demanding a response to the ram raids in mostly South Auckland. But say it I will. Arming retailers with weapons or giving them the ability to carry tazers is not, and never will be, the answer. It would be suggesting that we very much let mob rule in this country, or where we leave it to specific professions to carry weapons on the off chance that an incident will occur. We have seen that in the United States and it does not work. It has little impact, if any, on the actual crime rate and it does not address the broader issues of what is going on behind the scenes in some of these families and with some of these children. If we want to solve this problem or get ahead of the eight ball on it – then we need to turn in on ourselves and ask the question what can each one of us do right now? And there is plenty of work to get on with.

Firstly, these Children that are stealing goods are stealing specific items. Whether its cigarettes or electronic goods, high end fashion or labelled products. The first thing we can all do is not buy them. And that includes other retailers who sometimes stock ill gotten gains. Let me give you example; razor blades. These are largely locked away in some supermarkets or you need someone to help you get them out. The reason that’s the case is they once carried a decent street value and was targeted not for sale to individuals but sometimes shop owners. Cigarettes; if youre offered a cheap pack don’t buy it. Gucci or Ralph Lauren; if offered turn it down and wear that Hallensteins a little longer (no offence Hallensteins).

Secondly, the Government announcement that the Gangs will be the focus of some of this new Police spending. That is a good move because we have to understand some gang members are like Fagan out of Oliver’s Twist – running some of these kids to steal to order. And if we think some of that doesn’t extend to other more troubling criminal enterprise then wake up.

Thirdly, and this is not having a crack at parents – but know where your kids are. If they are out late at night then as sure as night follows day something might be up. Nip it in the bud.

Fourthly, the education system – the number of children being excluded from school because of behavioural issues is just shifting the problem somewhere else. We need to double down on our efforts to educate some children in a way that is conducive to them – its called child centric learning. If that means we identify children at 14 that are already in trouble or at risk of falling out of the system then lets offer them other opportunities such as a trade, something with their hands, or technical vocational education. I’ll tell you something about some of these kids – they are smart and very entrepreneurial so why not get them involved early on in an activity such as young enterprise – show them that they can earn money and build a multi-million business? Instead of excluding them harness their potential.

And on that front some parents out there are not great parents so why don’t the rest of us step up and why don’t we establish a national coordinated approach to mentoring? A national buddy up system where those of us who have the time and passion to really mentor these kids?

These are just a few solutions that we can work on that can make a meaningful difference so all this hoha about arming retailers is not the answer and never will be. In fact its that tradition of taking the easy route. These kids and their whanau haven’t taken the easy route and nor should we as a country. If things were easy we would be sitting around a campfire singing the johnny cash hits – but life is not easy and we should look to doing the tough yards to solving the tough problems.

Matthew Tukaki is the Chair of the National Maori Authority and the former Chair of the Ministerial Advisory Board of Oranga Tamariki.


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