No one is evil for no reason, not even a fire bug or vandal

As The Standard's police reporter, I watch the influx of crime stories come through and take note of how often I see young offenders making our headlines.

Of late, it has seemed more frequent that minors have been put in handcuffs for breaking the law.

Just yesterday, a 13-year-old boy and a 14-year-old boy were arrested for lighting fires around Murray Bridge and many of our readers were outraged. And I don't blame them, no one wants to fall victim of arson and no one is above the law.

I will, however, consider why a 13-year-old is in a position to do that.

Or why a 16-year-old would break into their high school and vandalise buildings.

It seems outrageous that someone so young could be walking the streets unsupervised, lighting fires at will or smashing down windows, but that’s the reality.

What are they going through below the surface that they seek such destruction?

I'm a strong believer in finding the good in people, and that no one is simply "bad" for no reason.

Have we forgotten that many young offenders were once victims themselves?

I do not excuse their crimes, but I do approach these incidents with a heavy heart, knowing that I was given a privileged life that kept me off the streets.

It’s easy to judge and blame, but most of these kids need help from their community to not re-offend.

Youth detention systems have proven that a therapeutic and supportive approach has been far more effective in rehabilitating “bad kids”.

And so, when I feel the initial anger and frustration to read about a young person acting out in the community, I try to imagine walking a mile in their shoes before I judge.

I find it helps to understand the crazy world we live in.

Emmalie Balnaves-Gale

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