The Roman Empire Debate, Youth Violence | We can’t have it like this!
Opinions This is a discussion post. The post expresses the views of the writer.
Recently, Romerikes Blad has written a lot about youth environments and youth crime. The picture is terrifying. We read about serious threats, violence and robbery, fireworks indoors and a general lack of respect for adults, teachers and the police.
It is therefore almost startling to read the statistics which show that the crime figures for young people have been falling ever since 2007. Young people today commit less crime than ten years ago – yes, they commit far less crime than their parents’ generation did when they were the same age.
The vast majority of children and young people in Lillestrøm municipality do not commit offences. The vast majority of children and young people who commit an offense only do it once and never again.
Men. A small group commits a lot of crime. The young people who commit crime are getting younger and younger and they do it again and again. Crime is also more serious than before.
Although the few who are involved in crime, they create fear and insecurity in many. It is reckless and terrifying what happens in the streets, at schools and where many people gather, such as train stations or shopping centres. And naturally enough, they create reactions in the majority of us. We can’t have it like this. Something must be done.
In the debate, it is often the simple solutions that draw the attention. On the one hand are those who advocate stricter reactions. On the other side are those who demand parents and preventive work. The truth may lie somewhere in between.
We know a lot about what is the common denominator for young people who commit crime. We know that they often come from poverty, outsiders, discrimination, poor knowledge of Norwegian and cramped quarters. The parents have a lower level of education and income and more often receive social security. The parents have often been punished for crime themselves and the children have often been in contact with child protection. School performance is worse than others. The signs are clear, and in repeat offenders these traits are even more obvious.
In October last year, I went on a study trip to Copenhagen with my fellow rapporteurs from Nedre Romerike. 12 years ago, Copenhagen was known for having major challenges with gang crime, violence, unsafe streets and many scared and desperate residents. In some districts, it was criminal gangs that largely ruled.
They had tried hard measures for many years. But it did not help. Criminals recruited new, young criminals and more and more took on an identity as criminals – in conflict with society at large. Crime did not go down. Copenhagen had to think new, work differently.
Now everyone is looking to Copenhagen. Because crime has plummeted. Copenhagen is doing something right. What?
Firstly, Copenhagen confirms that preventive work works. There must be clear expectations and consequences, but clarity and consequences are not enough. Trust and familiarity must be in place first. We must get to know and work systematically with individuals, groups and neighbourhoods. Together with, among other things, the school, youth clubs and NAV creates a present and accessible political friendship and trust. We must work to become known, earn trust and be someone the young people go to when things get difficult. This is a big, important and often difficult task.
Second, we must start work earlier. What used to be fights and crime in secondary school age now starts already in primary school. Therefore, crime prevention efforts must also start there.
Collect and use knowledge
And perhaps most importantly. The knowledge that the various public actors have must be collected, shared and used. Kindergarten vet noe. The teacher vet noe. Child protection knows otherwise. NAV knows the third and the police the fourth. There are many people in Lillestrøm municipality who work well, but all too often no one is sitting with the whole picture of the young person in question. Copenhagen shows us that a sharing culture and coordinated initiatives from the municipality, police and volunteers work. Together they are clear, coordinated and caring.
There is still crime in Copenhagen. But much less than it was. We can achieve the same in Lillestrøm municipality. I am therefore happy that in December the municipal government joined the Labor Party’s proposal, where we are municipal director, before the summer to present a case that describes how the municipality’s crime prevention work among children and young people can be strengthened by reorganizing the cooperation between Lillestrøm municipality, neighboring municipalities, police and voluntary organizations .
Jørgen Vik, mayor (Ap) Lillestrøm