Kids are our future: police

BENDIGO police has worked with the children's court and regional YMCA since 2007 to prevent first time offenders from entering the judicial system as adults. 

Leading Senior Constable Youth Resource Officer Peter Eames, who runs the program in Bendigo, said if youth offenders attended the one-day program they would not receive a conviction. 

"Kids are our future," he said.

"We have a responsibility to ensure they reach their full potential.

"It is so important to ensure they don't continue offending into adulthood."

The program runs around eight times a year, with four to nine participants in each course. 

Leading Senior Constable Eames said the participants were aged between 12 and 18 and had to make a full admission of guilt to be accepted into the program.

"We have a volunteer who is very experienced in the judicial system," he said. 

"He has a lot of experience on the other side of the law.

"The volunteer was an alcoholic and has been shot at. 

"He sits down with the kids and tells them what life looks like if you continue to offend.

"We used to have a female volunteer who was a victim of crime.

"She would share her story, she's since moved away."

The program, which involves team building exercises and goal-oriented discussion, aims to meet the needs of each young person. 

Leading Senior Constable Eames said he helped to ensure young people left the day with some connections. 

"We discuss their home life and other factors," he said. 

"We try to get them set up with further education or employment, depending on what they are seeking to achieve in life."

The most common criminal acts for young people who attended the program were burglaries, theft from or of a car, assaults, and wilful damage of property. 

Leading Senior Constable Eames said the risk factors for youth offending included peer pressure, boredom, substance abuse, and opportunism

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