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I feel no sympathy whatsoever for the teenage burglar who had a bit of his finger cut off. But I do feel something: I feel sad for him.
If you read his ex-girlfriend’s account of what happened you realise it was probably always going to take something drastic like this for that 17-year-old to realise there are consequences.
This was the fourth time he broke into the farmer’s house in Piopio. The fourth time.
And this time he went into the farmer’s room in the middle of the night looking for car keys and when the farmer woke up, he hit him over the head with a wine bottle, three times.
The farmer grabbed a gun and, even then, the teenager was an idiot telling the farmer to shoot him. Even when the farmer forced him to lie on the kitchen floor the teenager still had a knife and wanted to stab the farmer with it.
So the farmer and his son gave the teenager the bash.
This is how the ex-girlfriend – who by the way was 15 – tells the story:
The men were hitting the teenager with a wooden bat, she said. “It was hard, to the point he was bleeding.”
“I was laying in his blood,” she said, starting to cry on the stand. “I could hear it. I didn’t want to look at it. I hate violence.”
By then she says the teenager was crying. “He was begging for his life.”
What did he do? “Nothing. He was numb. He didn’t even try. He just let them do it.
“He was begging them not to. He was forced to put his hand out.” and they chopped it off with a knife.
He made no sounds and did not put up a fight, she said. “It was like his soul left his body. He just gave up.”
So right up to the last, that kid was pushing the limits and making threats like the big man and acting like there were no consequences for his actions.
I bet you a whole bunch of those kids ram-raiding shops in the middle of the night run around with an attitude just like this: acting like they can get away with it.
And most of us will know a kid with a crap attitude like this.
All too often its’ because there are no consequences. Police aren’t allowed to chase them in the car anymore. If they do end up in court, they get a light sentence from the judge, and the world tells them it’s not their fault. It’s systemic racism, a tough upbringing or some other lame excuse.
So, they’ll carry on ram-raiding and robbing until they’re confronted with the worst possible outcome: jail or a major accident or having a bit of a finger cut off.
How you get through to them, I don't know.
But I tell you where you start. You give the cops the resources and the permission to crack down on them at the first possible moment so they learn consequences.
So, it doesn’t have to get to the worst-case scenario before they finally give up fighting the world.