Last updated 06:13, December 18 2014
An increasing number of younger men are using violence against family members – “mostly mums” – a specialist family violence agency says.
Of about 190 men listed on family violence police incident reports in North Canterbury in a 12-month period, 23 were aged 15 to 19.
The majority, about 30 per cent, were aged between 20 and 29, and five were under 15.
Aviva, which runs ReachOut, a support service for men who have used violence, said it expected similar patterns in Christchurch.
Ramon York, a Rangiora-based ReachOut worker, said he had observed an “enormous increase” in family violence cases involving younger men.
“There are far more young people coming up on the [incident reports], that is young boys and girls who are acting out against their mum or their brothers and sisters . . . mums mostly.”
“It’s quite often in that close, intimate circle.” Crime victim statistics released by police show several people over the age of 80 were assaulted by their children, male and female, in the last four months.
Half a dozen girls aged 10 to 14 were assaulted by their boyfriends.
Aviva chief executive Nicola Woodward said the agency was receiving increasing requests for support from younger offenders.
It had appointed a new ReachOut worker, with a youth focus, to meet the need, she said.
“A significant percentage of the police incident reports we receive identify younger men, commonly between the ages of 15 and 25, who have used some form of violence within their families.
“We know that those police incident reports capture only a very small percentage – 20 per cent, no more – of violence that is taking place within homes and communities.
“Even if the problem of violence amongst younger people was not growing, which we believe it is . . . we absolutely need to develop a focused response for younger people. Because if we don’t do that . . . we won’t break the intergenerational cycle of violence.”
Senior Constable Chris Hurring, family violence co-ordinator for North Canterbury, said violence by younger men, quite often towards parents or caregivers, was a concern and “a battle that’s quite a hard one to fight”.
“The younger we can help people the better chance I think we have of improving their outlook on life and preventing them from going on to offend later in life.”
ReachOut started in 2012 after Hurring noticed a “huge, gaping hole” in services for men.
There were plenty engaging with women and children across New Zealand, through women’s refuges and Child, Youth and Family, he said, but no-one was contacting men listed on police incident reports unless they were described as victims.
Aviva volunteered to run the programme in North Canterbury and, in a first for the country, signed a memorandum of understanding with police, which gave staff access to names of men on family violence police incident reports so it could contact them.
After the pilot’s success in North Canterbury, a similar memorandum was signed between Aviva and Christchurch police in October this year. Hurring said the service had saved the life of a woman, through “recognising what threat [a ReachOut client] posed to her”, and a man who was intent on taking his own life.
The ReachOut service in North Canterbury was last month nominated for a problem-oriented policing award.
– The Press