Nine of every 10 gang members in New Zealand have received a benefit or other welfare, costing the country $525 million between 1993 and 2014, a new report reveals.
Sixty per cent of children born to gang parents were abused or neglected, the report, by the Ministry of Social Development (MSD), also found.
In total, cycles of violence within gang families will cost New Zealand’s welfare system $714 million over their lifetimes.
The child abuse stat is very very sad, if not entirely surprising.
The challenge is not to demonise gangs, but to look at how one can can make gang life less attractive to its members or have gangs less involved in crime, more involved in work and less harmful to youth.
Police and Corrections Minister Judith Collins said gangs were a “huge driver” of child deaths and family violence, and tackling gangs would make a big difference to New Zealand’s poor record.
“If you…look at the number of people in jail, they are almost invariably victims of family violence themselves somewhere along the line, and that’s what breeds violence.
“If we’re going to really make a dent in those figures….and help people save their lives, we’re going to have to deal with those gangs.”
With the nationwide prison muster reaching record levels, and over 30 per cent of the prison population affiliated with a gang, Collins said the Government’s work could also help to reduce the prison population.
You can’t (and shouldn’t) outlaw gangs. As Collins says the cycle is often generational. If you can provide the right incentives for gang members to get legal jobs and away from crime, then their kids will have a better chance.