Listening to Hekia Parata yesterday talking about the increasing secondary school achievement of Maori and Pacific Island youth, I wondered how much this is influencing the dropping teen birth rate. Perhaps more than the welfare reforms?
Figure 2: Percentage of school leavers with at least an NCEA Level 2 qualification or equivalent, by ethnic group (2009 to 2013)
Earlier in the week I posted about the halving of 16 and 17 year-old sole
parents dependent on welfare since 2008. It's not simply
because they aren't receiving benefits. It's because there are far fewer of them.
I asked Statistics New Zealand for data relating to births to 16 and 17 year-olds which arrived the same day. Good response time.
Interesting (but possibly insignificant) that the birth
numbers (very broadly-speaking) decline under National governments and
increase under Labour.
What is known is prisons are full of offenders who were born to very
young mothers (or are subsequent births to her). They have been
neglected or abused, and subsequently spent time in state institutions or
foster care growing up.
They are on a path to prison from birth.
So the dropping adolescent birth rate will also dovetail well with the working prisons and more
rehab services policy, plus Anne Tolley's new approach to gangs.
There is every reason to expect a drop in crime and prison populations.
Without getting overly excited I wonder if, in time, we will be able to look back to 2008 and pinpoint it as the year NZ really began to get breakthrough on inter-generational social problems that have plagued some parts of the country and some parts of society for a very long time.
(After watching Dark Horse last weekend, an insight into gang life in Gisborne which depicted some kids escaping though the reality weighs that many more do not, I want to believe change is afoot.)
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