Following a major fire in Kaiti, local community worker Manu Caddie says parents need to take more responsibility for knowing where their children are at all times.
Mr Caddie knows the children responsible for a fire in a Kaiti public reserve that threatened houses in Oxford Street on Saturday and does not think they had any intention of causing so much damage.
International research cited by Mr Caddie confirms that the four most important things families can do to keep their young people out of trouble with the law are: spending quality time with them; knowing where they are and who they are with; getting them involved with positive social activities like sport, marae or church activities; and ensuring they are attending school.
“We have developed resources for families that remind them about these facts but many caregivers are struggling with a wide range of personal, financial and social issues that mean children can sometimes miss out on the level of care they need” said Mr Caddie.
“The government recently introduced its Breakaway Holiday Programme funding for community groups to provide activities for young people but these youth only need to come from general areas rather than targeting children we know come from families that may need extra support. The compliance requirements for the funding are so onerous that most neighbourhood level groups were excluded so its left to corporate style organisations who are not necessarily connected to the communities that need the service.”
Mr Caddie said he was approached by a local resident before Christmas about the risk that the reserve presented because of children playing unsupervised in the area. The resident had contacted Gisborne District Council to see if they were interested in clearing some of the scrub and putting in a playground or something but were told that wasn’t possible.
“When I contacted the Parks and Reserves Manager he was more than happy to meet with local residents and so some of the children who started the fire had helped distribute a flyer in letterboxes around the reserve to see if there were other residents keen to see something happen there.”
Mr Caddie said he was planning to follow-up with the residents about the reserve in the next month and hoped that now the fire had cleared the scrub and demonstrated the need for something more to be done in the reserve the residents could work with GDC and interested community groups to make something happen there.