'Hold the parents accountable': Children as young as eight carrying out crimes, says Cork victim advocate

'Hold the parents accountable': Children as young as eight carrying out crimes, says Cork victim advocate

Sally Hanlon, director of Support After Crime Services on Anglesea Street,  remarked that children as young as eight or nine had caused serious damage to people’s properties.

A CORK advocate supporting victims of serious offences is calling for more parents to be held accountable after witnessing the impact of crimes carried out by children.

Sally Hanlon, director of Support After Crime Services on Anglesea Street, said that she had service users whose traumatic experiences had been undermined by the age of the perpetrator which, in some instances, was very young.

She remarked that children as young as eight or nine had caused serious damage to people’s properties. Others were responsible for the theft of items, including a handbag.

“These children are too young for punishment, so it appears that there is nothing the victim can do in this situation,” she said.

“There’s no way that we would even want to see a child being confined in any way. What we would like to see is parents being held accountable. If there is damage being done to a property or a bag with money in it gets snatched, their parents should be held accountable.”

“Parents are there to look after their children, not let them go out and damage people’s properties.”

“Personally, I feel very sorry for these children, but it’s hard to know if I would feel the same way if I was a victim of one of these crimes.

“The victims coming to us affected by a crime carried out by a child tend to be from areas where anti-social behaviour is very common.”

She described the situation as “frustrating”.

“It’s very frustrating when a victim realises the age of the offender,” she said.

‘Trying to convey the impact on a victim’s family and their community to a kid this age is extremely difficult,” says Sally Hanlon of the Support after Crime Service.	Picture: Des Barry
‘Trying to convey the impact on a victim’s family and their community to a kid this age is extremely difficult,” says Sally Hanlon of the Support after Crime Service. Picture: Des Barry

“The offender could be as young as 13, and there is very little you can do in this situation. It’s very difficult to put sense into a child that young.”

Ms Hanlon described just how difficult it can be for children to understand the true impact of their crimes.

“Trying to convey the impact on a victim’s family and their community to a kid this age is extremely difficult,” she said.

“In my opinion, all you are doing is going through the motions and ticking boxes.

“You can’t impose conditions on them to do the right thing.

“However, I do believe they need to be imposed on their parents or guardians.

“People need to know where their children are and what they are up to. That’s what parenting is all about.

“Not having any consequences dismisses and diminishes the crime for the victim.”

She added that the parents of children who have committed crimes must know this is happening.

“If a child or grandchild comes into the house with €60, it didn’t just arrive in their hands or pockets,” she said.

She spoke of how victims of these crimes rarely experience a sense of closure after the incident.

“The people coming to us are telling us that when they saw the child, they never suspected or were in any fear of them,” she said.

“It can be terribly annoying for the victim because they have no comeback.”

To find out more information about the various supports that are made available for victims of crime, visit http://www.supportaftercrimeservices.ie/about-us.php

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