Chris Lacey, General Manager of Programs at the Les Twentyman Foundation, recently contributed an insightful opinion piece to the Herald Sun, addressing the escalating issue of youth crime and the pressing need for early intervention.

The fear of an armed group of young men forcing their way into homes is becoming an all-too-real concern in our community. While calls for harsher sentences are understandable, the reality is that locking young people up often exacerbates the problem.

Les Twentyman, the late and esteemed founder of our foundation, famously described youth prisons as a “university of crime.” He observed that kids often emerge from incarceration angrier and more likely to re-offend. Instead of reducing crime, incarceration frequently worsens it. The true solution lies in positive intervention at the earliest signs of anti-social behavior.

The Les Twentyman Foundation’s Youth Support Service embodies this approach. Our program employs outreach youth workers who build relationships with young people and their families, addressing the root causes of their behavior. This method not only helps the youth reconnect with their families, schools, and communities but also significantly reduces their likelihood of reoffending. In fact, 80% of participants in our program avoid further involvement with the justice system.

However, despite the success of this program, state budget cuts pose a significant threat to its continuation. While funds are increasingly directed towards post-crime solutions such as ankle bracelets, we believe that these measures do little to address the underlying issues. Detaining young people often only exacerbates social problems. The key to reducing youth crime lies in early intervention and comprehensive support.

The Les Twentyman Foundation remains committed to creating a safer and more supportive community through early intervention. We thank our supporters for standing with us in this crucial endeavor. Together, we can ensure a brighter future for our youth and our community.

Full article provided below.