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Tearaway teenagers

The question

The papers this week are full of the crime wave among youngsters. Too young to face criminal charges, we ask: what's to be done with the teenage tearaways?

As a father of three grown up children, I think that some effect would be made by putting financial pressure on the parents of such young offenders. The behaviour of the parents is at least partly to blame for the increasing number of crimes committed by youngsters. Having grown up in a school system where caning, or other forms of physical punishment were common, I am all for teachers being given more powers, and for the protection of teachers from abuse (physical or otherwise) by parents.

Mike Paul, 49, senior engineer, Germany Working in Brazil, where there is a real problem, the following draconian measure immediately springs to mind. Contraception should be compulsory for everyone by means of an annual injection. Only those couples who can demonstrate that they are competent to provide a high standard of childcare would be permitted to raise children. The number of unwanted children and unsuitable parents would be considerably reduced. Then again I always was a liberal.

Stuart Hutchings, Rio de Janiero The parents should be held responsible. They have a duty to instil into their children how to treat fellow human beings and other people's property, and I am at a loss to understand parents who do not. Perhaps a tax scheme should be invented to ensure that parents who do not instil a correct behavioural pattern into their children end up paying for their wrongdoings.

Lee Durnford, 31, civil engineer and business developer, Croydon Life's all 'carrot' these days - maybe it's time to bring back some 'stick'.

Properly enforced high profile community service orders have worked wonders at my local station, where offenders have been required to attend during the evening rush hour (for maximum exposure and effect) and be seen, by as many of their 'victims' as possible, cleaning off their graffiti from the subway walls.

Philip Richards, 64, senior engineer, London If they don't behave we could threaten them with a career as a civil engineer. They would then have to suffer years of hard work to become qualified; poorer pay, poorer working conditions and longer hours than any other profession; virtually no appreciation from society; and a lifetime of trying to explain to the public that an engineer doesn't only fix TVs and washing machines. If that doesn't get them back on the straight and narrow, nothing will.

Chic Haggart, 40, traffic manager, Perth After 23 years in this country, I have noticed the decline of moral standards at all levels. It saddens me to see how some parents have failed in their divine responsibility to raise children correctly so that they would grow up to the benefit of the society.

I agree with studies carried out in the US that show that teenagers who have pursued a life of crime were not shown the boundaries by their parents. They also report that the parents had little time to spend with them when they were young. In a nutshell, the centre of education lies at home.

Reza Salahi, 40, assistant design manager, Norwich

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