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Sunday, December 04, 2022

Don’t call them ram-raids: Can an untold name help curb criminal instincts?

Alison Mau is a Senior Journalist Materialand editor of the #metooNZ project.

opinion: The social media craze can be downright shocking to anyone over the age of 25—but sometimes, they’re not just a chance for some silly antics, but a force for good.

Remember the Ice Bucket Challenge of 2014? Described as the most popular social media trend of the decade, it originated as a stunt to raise awareness about ALS, the neurogenerative disease also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

In less than 60 days, $US115 million was raised for ALS research after more than 17 million buckets uploaded their videos to Facebook. Ten billion people watched those videos. The Ice Bucket Challenge is now an annual fundraiser and has been described as “the ultimate case of a technical victory in non-profit fundraising”.

There is no such lofty ideal in New Zealand in the current “fad” driven by social media. Ram-raids – where (mostly) stolen cars are driven through shop doors and high-value goods are quickly taken away – are now an almost daily occurrence, and this week police revealed that 88% of criminals are under 20 years old. are under age.

Read more:
* Auckland youth ‘out of control’ as ram-raids across city
* A dozen East Auckland dairies raided this year, owner now feeling ‘insecure’
* One Night Out Ram Redding

Thirsty liquor was raided in Huntsbury, Christchurch in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

supply

Thirsty liquor was raided in Huntsbury, Christchurch in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

After two more raids overnight on Thursday, moral panic is brewing in the community—including cognitive dissonance. How can we look at today’s headlines and not conclude that there is a youth crime epidemic going on?

A look at the statistics shows that’s not the case – youth crime has been on a downward trend for the past decade, with crime rates for children (ages 13 and under) and young people (ages 14 to 17) falling 65% and 63% respectively. , between 2011 and 2021.

The information we don’t have yet is what is actually causing the increase (no pun intended) in this particular crime. A soup-pot of factors is evident; Some raids show traces of organized crime (a swift, well-planned pounce on high-value items can fill up the stolen-to-order list); And some have been attributed to the initiation of the gang.

Detective Inspector Karen Bright talks to the media about the Ram raid in the city on Wednesday, April 27, 2022.

Chris McKeen / Stuff

Detective Inspector Karen Bright talks to the media about the Ram raid in the city on Wednesday, April 27, 2022.

Poverty, inadequate parenting and the youth justice system have also been blamed for this.

Ram-raids are not a new phenomenon – the “new” bit is uploading video evidence to social media platforms like Snapchat and Tik-Tok, apparently for bragging rights. Police have acknowledged that the trend is driving coping behavior and say they are working with social media platforms to tackle it. What solutions might emerge from those talks is still a mystery, and given that we know those forums drag their feet, we probably shouldn’t get our hopes up.

One thing is certain – eventually, someone, possibly a child – will be injured or killed if the carnage is not stopped; A fact the police also acknowledged this week. This issue has us all scratching our heads – and looking for creative solutions.

In an interview with Counties Manukau Detective Inspector Karen Bright earlier this week, RNZ’s Kim Hill had a bright idea. Could the name-change, from the outlaw-glam of “Ram-Raid” to something more uncool, be the key, Hill asked.

It may have been a verbal comment – and it certainly completely silenced Bright. Could this be a center of truth?

We’ve seen it before. In 2014, the New South Wales government changed the name of “king-hits” (one-punch attacks that often leave their victims badly injured or dead) to “cowardly punches”. The public call was made by the family of teenager Daniel Christie, who died in January of that year after being attacked during a night at King’s Cross in Sydney.

The terminology took off in the mainstream media and is still widely used, even as a British tourist sued a television news organization for defamation in 2019. Tourist won his case, which rested on whether Channel Nine was correct in using the term “cowardly punch”. To describe his actions after being acquitted of grievous bodily harm.

What can we call this latest incident of car-related robberies, if not Ram-raids? Catch up boldly? Lost robbers? Goons raid? The really hard thing can be to settle on a phrase that works and that we can all get behind – and that’s no easy feat.

The crux of the Ram-raid issue will not change with a terminology-swap, especially in cases where crime is driven by necessity or by gangs. But it may just slow down the copying element; After all, a fad only lasts as long as it’s cold.

Just ask John and Max Key, who apparently killed another social media fad — planking — stone-dead a few years ago.

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