Street kids a dilemma for police

Taylar AmoniniNorth West Telegraph
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Almost 100 children were collected from the streets of Hedland in February as police ramp up operations to keep the streets of Hedland safe.

In a joint operation between South Hedland Police and Child Protection and Family Support Services, 77 children aged 8-14 were interviewed on the streets after 9pm.

The operation uncovered 45 children who had not attended school at all during the year, with a further 15 unable to recall when they had last attended school.

South Hedland officer-in-charge Senior Sergeant Dean Snashall said the cause of so many children being on the street at night and not in school could not be pinpointed to one particular reason.

“The issue of kids on the streets is a complex social problem that includes boredom and a lack of parental responsibility,” he said.

“In some cases, the unstable and violent environment in their house can be a cause.”

Sen. Sgt Snashall said while police were collecting and interviewing these children, it should be noted that police should not be expected to stop it from happening.

“This is a parenting issue and the focus needs to be on providing appropriate services to the parents to ensure they have the necessary skills to raise a family and keep a home. There also needs to be a bigger focus on getting these kids to school from an early age.”

In response to these numbers, Town of Port Hedland Mayor Camilo Blanco said these figures were the driving force behind his steps to reduce alcohol abuse and increase funding to support services in Port Hedland.

“These issues are much bigger than what local government is able to deal with, so we have been lobbying State and Federal governments to provide increased funding in our region for more intensive child support services, and we will continue to do so until we see an improvement,” he said.

“In a recent visit to Canberra, I met with Human Services Minister Alan Tudge and made it clear that this is an area which needs to be prioritised.”

Police said they would be carrying out further operations in the coming months.

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