No 'clean slate' after teen crime
Have you been a victim of crime?
It often goes unmentioned, but one victim of youth offending is the person that offender grows into.
As a teenager I fell in with the wrong crowd as many do, dabbling in substance abuse and considering myself above the law and bulletproof.
After being charged for a series of petty thefts and refusing to take the probation service seriously, I spent several months in prison to think about my actions.
Upon departing on home detention, I gained employment and found my own house to rent within two weeks (not an easy task with an anklet on).
Skip ahead seven years and I have not put a foot out of line. I have paid my reparation back in full, I find my entertainment in sport, media and literature. I have also completed a tertiary degree in a high demand science field.
I volunteer my own time to help others and my community and made a valid contribution to society. I hold a job that gives endless possibilities for travel and is helping make New Zealand's voice heard in competitive global markets.
However, I have been turned down from countless previous jobs due to being upfront and honest about my past.
I have had to turn down once-in-a-lifetime job offers around the world in countries that would not let me work there, let alone visit for a holiday.
I can't disclose to my colleagues, my friends or my former classmates and partners what my past entails as it would lead to being treated differently, excluded from activities and give others a reason not to trust in me.
Insurance costs exponentially more or is entirely unobtainable. This stigma will never go away, never expire and will always leave me regretting the choices I made during the most fragile time in any person's life.
What percentage of teenagers know what they want to do with their lives? How many are saving for their retirement, or planning the home they might build when they turn 35 or seriously thinking through the repercussions of any split second decision they might make?
In no way do I condone the actions I took. I hold remorse for those my offending hurt and those who lost something, and even though the monetary value has been covered, there are also emotional costs to a victim of crime. I have no rebuttal or excuse for what I did, these actions are mine alone and I face the consequences alone.
I implore everyone who is of the age where you are living for the moment and enjoying your youth to consider your future with each action you take, there is no clean slate or second change for what I have done.
Whether it's driving after a few beers at a party, throwing a punch at someone for doing you wrong or breaking the law for your own gain, think about who pays the price in the long term. You are responsible for your own actions.
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