AN alarming spike in anti-social behaviour in Maffra has caused fear in the town, with locals alleging some youths are out of control.
Local juveniles, thought to be in their early teens and pre-teens, have been accused of property vandalism, theft, trashing public areas, foul language, letting dogs out of backyards and damaging cars.
There has been a social media call for greater police presence and CCTV cameras in Maffra, as a number of recent incidents have forced some local businesses to adopt a ‘one young person in the shop at a time’ policy.
The youths, who get around town on either bikes, scooters or skateboards, have been described as “intimidating” as they ride along footpaths and amongst pedestrians.
It is understood the skate park at the back of Woolworths acts as a meeting place where the youths congregate.
Because of broken glass and litter surrounding the park, a number of young people who aren’t involved with the anti-social group reportedly prefer to travel to Sale to use the skate park facilities or have been discouraged from going to a skate park at all.
Locals have also observed a decline in the number of people riding bikes recreationally throughout town, with some fearing such an activity could place them at risk of theft.
Secondary school educator and middle years wellbeing coordinator Tyson Biffin explained that from a scientific point of view, many young adolescents carried an unbalanced prefrontal cortex, which was the part of the brain charged with decision making and risk taking.
“Younger people are also more socially conscious and care far more about what their mates think about them than any repercussions.
“If they aren’t getting caught, then they don’t care even if the risk of getting caught is sitting above their heads,” Mr Biffin said.
“It’s an issue that is seen all across country areas that have nothing for young people to do.
“Towns usually put in a skate park and assume that it will suffice in entertaining the young people of the town. It’s hard because without money, it’s difficult to create something that young people actually enjoy and will fill the void of boredom.”
Maffra police reiterated people needed to report crimes to police rather than post reports online.
Sergeant Anthony Dessent said there had been a rise in “unwarranted and unnecessary” social media posts as a result of recent crimes committed by “a small group of youths” in the area.
“Police have received a limited number of formal complaints regarding these youths’ behaviour and these complaints have been investigated,” he said.
“This has resulted in a number of outcomes for those young offenders involved, such as welfare notifications, undertaking the police cautioning program and being summoned to court for criminal matters.”
Sergeant Dessent said the police were actively involved in providing support to the families involved.
“Police ask those posting these incidents, that in the first instance, to contact their local police station or 000, and to report these incidents to police rather than posting incidents on social media,” he said.
“Maffra police would like to assure the community any incidents involving youths causing trouble are taken seriously and will be investigated thoroughly.”
If police attendance is needed or people witness a crime being committed, they should phone 000.
Anybody who witnesses anything suspicious is urged to report it to Maffra police on 5147 1026.