FORMER children’s court magistrate Barbara Holborow has implored communities to play a greater role in the lives of young people.
Ms Holborow was critical of a decision to make all new magistrates take a turn on the children’s court bench, where they were once hand picked for the job. ‘‘When you get on the children’s court bench you need to be able to speak to children, to relate to children, to understand children and for them to be able to relate to you,’’ she said. ‘‘That’s not happening now [and] it’s a tragedy.’
Ms Holborow said it was always her desire to hear what children had to say. She recalled the case of a young boy whose grandmother lived at Cronulla.
‘‘I had a little four-year-old boy come before me. His solicitor said he wished to speak to me ... [so] we went into my chambers,’’ she said, recalling the moment he sought protection from his mother’s boyfriend.
‘‘He said ‘I want to stop him from making my nose bleed’. I promised him, ‘If he makes your nose bleed again he will go to jail’. [Then] he said, ‘I want you to stop him from making mum’s nose bleed’.
‘‘That is when I got really angry.
‘‘Where was this mother when her son’s nose was bleeding? Where was he when her nose was bleeding; letting him witness that violence?’’
With the mother pregnant to her boyfriend and reluctant to leave, Ms Holborow was back in the courtroom when the child’s grandmother said she would take custody of him so he could still see his mum every day but would be safe.
‘‘I did not see [him] again which probably means everything worked out,’’ she said.
‘‘A few years ago I fell and broke [my] left femur in 10 places. When I came out of rehab I was on a walking stick. People think you are deaf. Then I got a walker. Now they think I have lost all my marbles.’’
On children today
‘‘Children have become monosyllabic and I blame computers. I ring my grandchildren ... and they answer [questions] with one word. It’s like pulling teeth. I want to throw every computer away. I really think we need to keep conversing with children.’’
On keeping children in school until they are 17
‘‘There are kids that should be leaving school at 14 and 15 and put in a trade because they are not academic. They will never be academic, even though their mothers and fathers and our PM want them to be. Give them something that they feel good about themselves rather than force an education on them.’’
‘‘I would like to see 12, 13, 14, 15-years-olds with a curfew. And if they are out I would like to see them taken to the police station and mum and dad phoned to collect them. Parents have to take responsibility for their own children. Be parents for goodness sakes and stop trying to be their best friend. Kids will have a lot of best friends. Be their mother or their father and be their strength.’’
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