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So we’ve found out who it really was who managed to get that bunch of teenagers off the roof of the Burnham youth justice facility at the weekend.
It was Colonel Sanders. Ace negotiator Colonel Sanders.
I know he just looks like a friendly old chap on the signs outside the KFC restaurants. But turns out the Colonel’s the guy to call-in if you’re trying to defuse a tense situation.
Which all started at the youth justice place at Burnham last Saturday morning when these five teenagers took a set of keys off a guard - whose wrist was broken in the process, by the way - and escaped onto the roof and refused to come down.
And it wasn’t until Sunday - nearly 24 hours later - when all of them were off the roof. While they were up there, they’d been hurling stuff at the people on the ground. So it would’ve been pretty aggro at times, I imagine.
And turns out, what got them down was a promise they’d get a feed of KFC.
I’ve actually been to that facility at Burnham and I know what it’s like. Even when I was there, things were pretty peaceful but I got the sense that things could go pear-shaped pretty quickly.
Yelling and banging. All of that stuff. So I’m not going to make any claims that dealing with the kids out there is a walk in the park. It’s not.
But not even I - you know, Mr Bleeding Heart Liberal according to some people - not even I can just sit back and say I’m perfectly comfortable with these five kids being promised takeaways from KFC to get them off the roof.
Just imagine it: “Right, just to check I’ve got everything - you want five buckets of wicked wings, five double downs, five quarter packs and a side of popcorn chicken. Anything else guys? OK - 3 cokes and two Fantas. On the way!”
Now, as far as I’m concerned, Oranga Tamariki should not have treated these young offenders as if they were trying to get a bunch of little kids to go home after a playdate.
You know: “If you come now, you’ll get a treat”.
What example does that set for other young people living there? It says ‘if you hang out long enough, you’ll get something no one else gets to enjoy’.
Yes, they were taken into police custody afterwards. But do you really think those kids care about the cops getting involved? Of course not. That’ll be water off a duck’s back - they’ll just know that they got a feed of KFC.
So what should they have done? Well, I reckon they should have just let them stay on the roof until they got bored and tired and cold.
Because, if we keep pandering like this, if we think we’ve lost control now - what’s it going to be like in the future?
This approach is just another example of people getting away with bad behaviour.
Next, we’ll have people making citizen's arrests and the cops telling them to buy the offenders a burger and fries from McDonalds if they promise not to do it again.
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