OPINION: Law change to help deter young culprits

OPINION: Today the Chronicle has the rare opportunity to expose a young offender who at just 14, is a key contributor to the unenviable problem this region has with house and car break-ins.

While the law now clearly states that the media has the right to identify repeat child offenders, the decision to publish the name of a boy who has barely entered his teenage years is not one to be taken lightly.

Our justice system rightly recognises that children who commit petty crimes in their youth should have the benefit of effectively having their slates wiped clean once they are mature enough to realise the error of their ways.

For too long, however, that privilege has been abused, both to the detriment of the public who must simply accept that child is protected no matter what the cost, and to the child offenders themselves who learn they can get away with a slap on the wrist.

Much of the blame is directed at parents but it would be naive to believe that many mothers and fathers have the capacity or the urge to help steer wayward teenagers in the right direction.

A decade of court reporting has provided a confronting insight into generational welfare dependence and learned criminality.

It has also shown that naming and shaming does provide some deterrence to the offender and comfort to the victims.

Michael Jackson was the first child in this region to experience that shame and sadly, the ever growing number of names on Friday's Children's Court list suggests he won't be the last.

This week's decision should serve as a warning to other juvenile offenders and their parents that children can no longer continue to commit offences under the cloak of anonymity.

When you repeatedly insist on stepping outside the law and behaving like an adult, you will be exposed for what you are - a criminal.