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Intern helps prevent anti-social youth behaviour

27 April, 2020

During her recent McCusker Centre for Citizenship internship, Randi Beck researched programs that the City of Gosnells could implement to positively engage with vulnerable young people around libraries.

The University of WA Law and Society Major attended community events and suggested changes that could be made to library structure and staff training, as well as different programs and activities that could be implemented for teens (and the wider community) to take part in.

Ms Beck said the 100-hour community service internship inspired her to further explore diversionary tactics for youth justice, in particular early intervention and prevention.

“Meeting the community who would be impacted by my work was very confronting,” the Wandi resident said.

“Playing games and talking to these teenagers really opened my eyes to the fact that they largely are really good kids who have been really let down by certain circumstances in their lives.

“It made me appreciative of the different forces at play that can lead to ‘bad behaviour’ and made me a more empathetic individual.”

Ms Beck, 20, said she hoped her research would lead to a mindset change that helped people recognise the factors that lead to antisocial behaviour, rather than strictly relying on punishment over prevention.

“If any of the policies I have recommended end up being implemented, I think this will make a huge difference to young vulnerable people in this area in terms of how they interact with the community,” she said.

“I focused on long-term solutions that do not involve subjecting more youth to the justice system, which could evolve into a life-long pattern. I really prioritised diversionary approaches.”

City of Gosnells Youth Librarian and intern supervisor Leanne Fitzgerald said Ms Beck’s report would be used to make budget requests and take action to improve facilities and services.

“The work that Randi completed during her internship was valuable and to a high quality,” Ms Fitzgerald said.

“Her research into youth behaviour will help staff and visitors better understand the teens who visit our libraries, and we hope this will lead to better sharing of the community space.”