|Offences by 10-14 year olds||16,414|
|Assaults||1106||Weapons Offences||164||Sexual Offences||297|
THEY are only children but Queensland's pint-sized criminals have been charged with more than 16,000 offences in 12 months.
The baby-faced felons might be only 10 to 14 years old but they are committing shocking crimes and at similar rates as adults — at schools, on public or private transport and in the home — the latest police Annual Statistical Review has revealed. The revelations come as two boys aged 11 and 16 faced Southport Children's Court yesterday for allegedly bashing an off-duty police officer and his girlfriend at Coolangatta.
Bond University criminologist Paul Wilson described the juvenile figures as "very disturbing" and called on the State Government to set up a data centre to formulate strategies for crime prevention.
"The assault rate (committed by) juveniles and young adults is one of the more disturbing crime trends of recent times," Professor Wilson said.
Australian Family Association president Alistair Barros said the soaring youth crime rates were the result of busy parents and the availability of violent and pornographic images on television, the internet and computer games.
"People are busier. Both parents are working and are working longer hours," Dr Barros said. He said young people were not taught to respect authority because of a "softly, softly" approach taken by authorities.
The director of Queensland's Youth Affairs Network, Siyavash Doostkhah, said police were more likely to warn juvenile offenders or divert them to counselling than charge them. But he criticised the State Government for building more detention centres instead of focusing on prevention when more families were breaking down and harder drugs were breeding younger criminals.
Mr Doostkhah said if children were addicted to drugs before their teens, they were more likely to commit violent offences.
His comments came as Premier Anna Bligh pleaded with schoolies partying on the Gold Coast not to begin their adulthood with a criminal record, after 34 were arrested in one night.
"It's a very stupid way to start your transition into young adulthood with an arrest on your record," she said yesterday. There have been 105 arrests in four days.
In Queensland, children aged younger than 10 are not held responsible for their crimes. Youth punishment ranges from warnings to imprisonment in juvenile detention centres.