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Fri 3rd April 2009

Maori crime rate down to early childhood maltreatment

Filed under: General — Vman @ 9:01 pm

Note that in the following story there is not a single mention of fathers. They step towards it by identifying the first 5 years of life as being very important. However they fail to identify all the key factors.

You will often read about “poverty” leading to crime. However this is not so. My parents were dirt poor when they were children.  My father was malnourished they were so poor. They would never dream of doing anything criminal.  Their fathers would have dealt with them if they did.

I put “poverty” in quotes because we are talking about 1st world poverty which is not poverty in the slightest.  It just means they are poor compared to the rest of the society they live in.  Sound research studies show that these negative outcomes are not linked to “poverty” as such. It is just that these poor families are much more likely to lack involved fathers and there is more likely to be a lower value placed on education.

What I do find interesting is the reference to a higher percentage of mothers with mental health problems. I haven’t read research about this factor before. I’d love to read the full research paper.

From TV3:

A forum at Parliament designed to look at the causes of crime has heard that the high Maori crime rate can be put down to the fact that Maori are over-exposed to risk factors that lead to crime.

Factors such as childhood maltreatment and poverty.

While some may claim it is just another talkfest, many at the Drivers Of Crime forum today hope some of the ideas will help stop Maori ending up behind bars.

“I hope it is going to be a lot more than just a hui day and a talk day and see you later, we’ll get back to you after the next election,” said social worker Edge Te Whaiti.

Academic Richie Poulton says Maori are at greater risk of experiencing factors which lead to anti-social behaviour.

“I think there is enough evidence to suggest that they have exposure to a whole lot of risk factors that are higher than for Pakeha,” he said.

Those factors include poverty, childhood neglect and mothers with mental health problems.

Maori Party co-leader Dr Pita Sharples says Maori are 11 times more likely to be jailed than other ethnic groups.

“Maori are more likely to be apprehended, more likely to be placed before a court, more likely to be convicted and more likely to be incarcerated than any other people on the same charge,” he said.

The Greens are calling for a separate justice system for Maori. They say the system we have now is biased.

“A justice system could do a very good job for Maori victims and offenders in removing the bias from the system,” said Green MP Metira Turei.

National’s Justice Minister Simon Power was dismissive of the idea though.

“It’s an interesting issue, I wouldn’t subscribe to,” he said.

The Maori Party says it is already been working on alternative Maori solutions in the justice system.

“We have some restorative justice which began for Maori, now they deal with everybody and they are really brilliant. But, they are Maori solutions” said Dr Sharples.

Mr Poulton says if you really want to reduce crime in New Zealand society, early intervention, ideally in the first five years of life is key.

4 Responses to “Maori crime rate down to early childhood maltreatment”

  1. Hans Laven says:

    I’m always surprised that many of those who make public statements on crime seem to have little or no awareness of criminological research. Poverty has long been ruled out as a major causal factor in crime. Poorer people are about as likely as richer people to maintain high standards of interpersonal morals and responsibility. Commonly assumed factors such as poor education and unemployment are not major at all. Factors employed by the NZ Dept of Corrections that have been shown through adequate research to be highly related to criminal behaviour include, in the previous 6 months or so, drug and alcohol abuse, gambling, mixing with criminal associates, relationship problems, poor lifestyle balance, violence propensity, experiencing risk-taking arousal, holding cognitions and emotions supportive of offending, experiencing offence-related sexual arousal, suffering from psychiatric or organic brain disorder. Childhood factors are much less relevant in differentiating between offenders and non-offenders. However, there are childhood factors that are mildly correlated with adult offending and these include parental substance abuse, parental psychiatric illness, incompetent parenting, highly restrictive or punitive parenting, parental divorce, adoption. Fatherlessness has not been researched sufficiently to draw confident conclusions. Research results are conflicting concerning the impact of sole parenthood.

  2. julie says:

    National’s Justice Minister Simon Power was dismissive of the idea though.
    “It’s an interesting issue, I wouldn’t subscribe to,” he said.

    I know that we shouldn’t divide groups for equality purposes, but, I do think Maori are the leaders in social behaviours on the ground and I just adore Pita Sharples for his hands on approach with the people.

    The Maori Party says it is already been working on alternative Maori solutions in the justice system.

    “We have some restorative justice which began for Maori, now they deal with everybody and they are really brilliant. But, they are Maori solutions” said Dr Sharples.

    They sure have and are, and despite all the racism against them in the past, they are so welcoming for other cultures to take advantage of what they offer.

    On TV this morning they were asking the young Maori what they thought of racism now in NZ. Most said, “It is nothing like it was” and “They still see us as uneducated, losers, unemployed and pregnant as young girls but it is getting better.”

    The truth is that Maori and the Pacific Island men and women walk alongside their young men and women through high school (at school) and they are OK with white boys also coming under their wings. They are just wonderful here out West with weekend after weekend of events, training and they dream build from an early age.

    The Chinese are quite good as this too.

    Mr Poulton says if you really want to reduce crime in New Zealand society, early intervention, ideally in the first five years of life is key.

    Absolutely. But I would say up till the age of 7 are the most important years of ones life. Those early years are paid back 10 fold. IMO

    Hans says,

    Fatherlessness has not been researched sufficiently to draw confident conclusions. Research results are conflicting concerning the impact of sole parenthood.

    The Maori do know quite a bit about fatherhood. It is not that simple getting men into groups. That would probably be the best excuse they would use.

  3. Hans Laven says:

    The opinion that the first one, five or seven years of life are the most important in relation to adult criminal offending is a common opinion but little more. Good bonding, nurturing and modelling in those early years will of course be important for good psychological development and to avoid psychopathy or other serious personality disorders that are correlated with adult crime, but other factors related little or nothing to the early years play a much greater role in criminality in most cases. Factors such as addictions, adult criminal peers and adult relationship problems.

  4. David says:

    Your comments make a lot of sense to me, one other possible cause I wonder about is the warrior image. Movies like “Utu” “Once for Warriors” the Haka war dance being performed by the All Blacks, the TV series “The NZ Wars” by James Belich all emphasis war as something to be proud of ahead of civilian life, aspects of Maori culture like respect for wise elders, relationships with nature and art seem to get eclipsed by all this.

    The problem is if you believe this stuff and act like a warrior in civilian society you’ll end up in prison.

    Perhaps other images and role models could be encouraged, not to get rid of the warrior image just balance it with some more civilian forms of excellence.

    I don’t know if I’m right, I’m an artist so am always thinking about how culture influences behavior, they wouldn’t have ads and product placement if it didn’t.

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