Concerns rising over violence among youth

Concerns are rising among Dunedin parents about the level of violence among youths in the city.

In the latest case, a 16-year-old was severely beaten by another teenager in an unprovoked attack at his school, leaving him with a badly broken nose and a suspected eye socket fracture.

The boy’s parent, who wished to remain anonymous for the safety of her son, said the offender and a "sidekick" youth who "stood over" her son during the attack, were not pupils at the school.

They managed to access a part of the school grounds where pupils congregate via a public area, which was not able to be seen by staff or security cameras.

She said she was not sure what had provoked the attack.

"He’s so traumatised.

"He won’t go back to school — he’s terrified."

She said the school, which she also declined to identify, could not do anything about the attack because the offenders were not pupils, and none of the pupils who witnessed the attack would make a statement.

"They’re all terrified of this guy."

She said police were able to identify the offender and he was referred to Youth Aid.

But it was not sufficient to protect her son and other young people in the city.

"I can’t change what happened to my son, but my main worry is that they know they can get away with it.

"They’re spreading a culture of fear and they’re just laughing about it."

Under New Zealand law, teenagers aged 14-17 who commit crimes are referred to Youth Aid or the Youth Court.

The mother was concerned someone would be seriously injured or killed, and the police appeared to be powerless to stop the violence under the present laws.

"They just seem to be waiting for them to get to an age where they do something really bad, and then they can actually charge them.

"So all of these children are at risk. I don’t want them to have to be scared of these people."

It is one of three incidents of youth violence reported to Dunedin police in the space of a week.

Earlier this week, a 16-year-old was arrested after members of the public made multiple complaints about a youth wearing a balaclava and threatening people with a baseball bat in in Harrington St, Port Chalmers.

Sergeant Matt Lee said the youth had been sending threatening messages to other youths, telling them that if they did not give him money, he was going to beat them up.

He was arrested for possession of an offensive weapon and referred to Youth Aid.

However, it is alleged he was making threats again the very next day.

On Monday, a Dunedin 15-year-old was punched in the face multiple times by another teenager near the intersection of Great King and St Andrew Sts while heading home from school.

His father, who also declined to be named, said it was a "blatant" and unprovoked attack, and it was lucky his son was not more seriously injured.

Had he fallen and hit his head on the concrete, he could have been really hurt.

"Incidents like that have killed people in the past."

The father called on the offender’s parents to help make him accountable.

"What are you going to do about it? Get him under control."

The teen was charged with assault and appeared in the Dunedin Youth Court.