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New school program rolls out to tackle early offenders

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A new program aiming to tackle student behavioural issues and support young people before offending behaviour begins will be rolled out across the state.

An extension of youth mentoring program Project Booyah, the School Respect Program teaches resilience, self-esteem, anger regression and other key protective factors for at-risk youth.

Following a successful trial with approximately 600 students on the Gold Coast, the School Respect program will now be rolled out and taught to all police districts in Queensland.

State manager for Youth Programs Inspector Michael Volk says when it comes to potentially vulnerable young people, early intervention is critical.

"By reaching them at this stage in their lives, we have the best possible chance of helping them understand the consequences of disengaging from their education and offending behaviour and encouraging them to make better choices," Inspector Volk says.

"Building positive relationships with both the police and the community is a really important part of Project Booyah's success and will form an important part of the School Respect program, too."

All school-based police officers, police citizen youth centre officers and school support officers across Queensland will be trained to deliver the program during the next 18 months.

It is expected, in the next two years, all policing districts within Queensland will have staff trained to deliver the program, which runs over 10 different sessions.

Minister for Children Leanne Linard says keeping children in school is one of the best ways to ensure young people stay away from offending.

"That’s why all our youth justice programs place a heavy emphasis on getting young people back into mainstream schooling or alternative education and vocational training," she says.

"Some vulnerable kids need help to find their way, and I’m delighted this program will complement existing initiatives where multiple government and non-government agencies work together to do exactly that."