Source: The Mercury, 17 December, 1997, p.12

Violent times revealed in new bureau figures

More young risk assault


Soclal Issues Writer 
ONE in every 100 of 
Australia's youth is like- 
ly to be assaulted by the 
time they are 25 years 
Young Australians are 
more likely to be victims of 
crime than their elders and 
make up a very high pro- 
portion of offenders in our 
prison system. 
Those not in trouble are 
generally healthier and while 
the proportion of our youth 
who smoke and drink heavily 
has fallen they still smoke 
more than their elders. 
The figures are part of an 
Australian Bureau of Stat- 
istics study of the nation's 
youth which reveals a gener- 
ally better educated group 
but one which will face more 
bouts of unemployment. 
Australia's young people 
are less inclined to worry 
about the environment as 
they did in the 1980s and are 
more concerned about rising 
crime rates and joblessness. 
They are living at home 
longer with their parents and 
staying longer in school, 
while one in five is totally 
dependent on their parents. 
Australia's youth are half 
as likely to marry as their 
counterparts of 1986 and 
more likely to wait until their 
mid to late 20s before taking 
the plunge. 
The trend towards casual 
and part-time work mostly in 
retail trades means those 
who do have work receive less 
take-home pay. 
Although the number of 18 
to 25-year-olds as a pro- 
portion of the prison popu- 
lation has fallen from 39% in 
1985 to 29% 10 years later, 
they are still over- 
Principle criminologist at 
the Australian Institute of 
Criminology, Dr Sat Mu- 
kherjee, said part of the rea- 
son for the fall was that the 
average age of offenders had 
risen from 29 years in 1985 to 
32 years now. 
The biggest declines in the 
proportion of youth in jails 
were in NSW and Victoria 
where tougher sentencing 
had been in force since the 
early 1990s. 
Dr Mukherjee said this 
meant a swelling of prison 
populations with older, re- 
peat offenders. 
The ABS report reinforced 
the seriousness of the role of 
suicide and violence in the 
deaths of young people. 
In 1996, young men died at 
three times the rate of young 
women with accidents, 
poisonings and violence ac- 
counting for 76% of young 
male deaths and 56% of 
young female deaths. 
Car accidents accounted for 
30% of deaths and suicide for 
"In the last 10 to 12 years 
the number of road deaths 
have declined very signifi- 
cantly but the accident rate of 
young men is increasing," Dr 
Mukherjee said. 
Older people had become 
more careful and they tended 
to drink and drive less be- 
cause of random breath test- 
"Cars are much more 
powerful now, they can do 
much more than in the past, 
they think they can control it 
and somehow they lose con- 
trol," Dr Mukherjee said. 
Nine out of 10 violent 
crimes were committed by 
young men and mostly men 
against men. 
Young women were fre- 
quently assault victims but 
their rate of attack increased 
in the case of sexual assault. 
Crime along with unem- 
ployment were the issues of 
the most concern.

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