A desperate mother is begging for help to punish her 11-year-old son, who has admitted ransacking graves and starting a fire in a $300,000 spree of destruction with a mate.
The Masterton woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, broke down in tears while speaking about her boy, who has an attention deficit disorder, and her loss as to make right "the terrible things he's done".
She said she was "really scared of the lines he's going to cross next".
"I'm at the end of my rope. I don't know what to do with him. I really need help," the solo mother said. "I've grounded him but I don't know what else to do.
"It's the community he's hurt, so I need suggestions from the community about any reasonable punishment I should give him.
"And I'm not talking light punishment here - he needs to take things to heart and it's got to stick so he never forgets it."
We really commend this woman for going public, and we can sympathise with her dilemma. We were twice the victims of very young offenders earlier this year. Included in that offending were sadistic acts towards animals. Two of the offenders were barely of school age, egged on by a 10-year-old sibling. Although the police apprehended the children on both occasions, they were powerless to do anything of consequence, to their frustration as well as ours. The children later committed a more serious offence, and have been removed from the neighbourhood by CYFS, to our relief.
So we can understand how torn this mother feels; torn between her love and concern for her son, and for the community which has been hurt by his destructive actions. If ever there was a poster-child for the further lowering of the age of criminal responsibility, it is this boy.
So let's be helpful here this morning. Does anyone have any constructive suggestions for this mother-in-crisis? We'd love to hear your thoughts ...