Many tears and many questions

Following the sorrowful scenes at the bus hub on Thursday afternoon there have been many tears and many questions.

First and foremost, how can two children have been caught up in what is an unimaginable nightmare for their families and friends? The victim is 16, whose whole life was ahead of him; his alleged assailant merely 13, and his best years may well now be behind him.

The justice system is about to take its course, but there will be little solace for all involved in the months ahead as the full picture of what happened on Thursday unfolds.

Secondly, what could have been done to prevent this from occurring? The recriminations started immediately after the alleged crime, and for good reason — this puts the spotlight on serious issues which must be addressed.

People assist the attacked teenager at the bus hub on Thursday afternoon. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
People assist the attacked teenager at the bus hub on Thursday afternoon. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
What is it about the bus hub that has made it a magnet for violence and made its users and neighbours fearful for their safety? People should be there briefly before making their way home, rather than never making it home at all.

The Otago Daily Times has reported on more than 20 incidents at the bus hub since it opened. There will undoubtedly have been more. This was a well-known problem.

Despite that, tragedy has ensued. Security cameras, security guards, and the Dunedin Central Police Station being just across the street were unable to save a young person’s life.

But there is a broader question which must also be addressed. What factors in our society have coalesced so that Dunedin’s children feel the need to be carrying weapons, for whatever reason, while on the city’s streets?

As noted, the circumstances of this sad day are yet to be fully explained, but a knife was found at the scene. Adults may believe Dunedin a safe place to be a child, but some of our children evidently beg to differ and are carrying personal protection.

Not only the bus hub must be made a safe place, but Dunedin as a whole needs to be a city where all can peacefully go about their business.

In the uncertainty and trepidation following Thursday’s events, that will be the most difficult question of all to address, but tackle it we must for the wellbeing of all.