By Sosthenes Mwita, 3rd September 2010 @ 12:00, Total Comments: 0, Hits: 4036
HELLO Readers. Today I look at some of the reasons that lead to the proliferation of child crimes in our midst. Child criminals are, indeed, a strange phenomenon. We all know that adult outlaws have committed crimes for centuries. However, modern society sees a crop of child criminals! One school of thought asserts that children are not criminals by nature.
With this notion in mind, let us look at the plight of disadvantaged children who live on the streets without any legitimate means to earn a living. These kids are in most cases neglected by parents. The children survive on rancid leftovers of food often scooped out of garbage cans. They sleep in the dank alleys.
Many blame their "cruel" parents in particular and society in general for their predicament. Some of the children I spoke to recently sleep in abandoned kiosks and shacks. In coastal cities and towns street children sleep in junked boats, abandoned homes, semi-finished houses, dilapidated vehicles, canopies of trees or on the open beach. Many do not trust anyone.
They are security sensitive and always carry knives for self-defence. In some cases, it is these needy children who engage in criminal activities for reasons of sheer survival. Some of
these delinquents may have been brought up by parents who have no respect for the rule of law or who are criminals themselves. It is natural that children who grow up in a family of outlaws, without any adult role model are likely to consider criminal activity as an acceptable way of living.
Recent history, unfortunately, has seen various communal settings caring less for their children. You will find that wealthy families rarely care about the children of comparatively less affluent people. This is a departure from the traditional African culture that requires that care for all children be a responsibility of the entire society. In towns and cities the once closely-knit extended family is now fragmented. In some places it has ceased to exist.
What we now see is a proliferation of fragile families that live acrimoniously and single parent households, many of which are headed by women. Neglect and abuse of children are common phenomena in our urban centres. This sorry spectacle has given rise to a preponderance of juvenile delinquents. These under-age children often engage in petty offences such as theft and possession of narcotic drugs.
Juvenile delinquents are young offenders - that is children aged between seven and 18 years - who commit repeated criminal acts, which would be punishable as crimes if committed by persons over the statutory age of 18 as set by the juvenile courts. The police in this country consider street children to be an army of future hardcore criminals who must be hammered severely when cornered. Probably it is this misbegotten belief that instigates the frequent abuse of street children by the smart boys in khaki.
Some of the street boys I have talked to speak grimly about a number of confrontations with police officers. The boys allege on-the-spot torture and extortion. Many of the girls claim to have been arrested and released without charge several times. It has been determined that some homeless children share the mean streets with adult underworld criminals - thieves, drug peddlers, and others. These adults get into contact with street children easily.
They, indeed, exploit them for criminal ends. Thieves often send street children on errands. The children are detailed to steal mobile phones, handbags and gold chains from pedestrians. The young thieves are paid small sums of money in return but in the process they risk being caught and battered to death. Street children are also used to push narcotic drugs for adult criminals. Children are invariably deemed to be innocent young souls who cannot afford to buy and sell expensive narcos. So drug barons often exploit this notion to the fullest.
Burglars are the most notorious when it comes to abusing children. They often use small children to enter sitting rooms in homes or shops through holes blasted in the walls or through windows whose crowbars they jack apart. The child's task, after entering through the hole, is to pull back the main door bolts or unlock night latches. But there is the danger the little child running into a night guard or a vicious dog in the house. Any noise can also alert owners.
It is outrageous that adults should use children on dangerous forays. Thieves, invariably, use other people's children. They do not take their own sons and daughters to dangerous missions. Children who engage in criminal activities are usually aware of the possible consequences. They are aware that they risk being victims of mob justice that can cause their death or lead to their arrest and imprisonment.
But children are not criminals by nature. They engage in criminal activities for survival. If rescued from this sticky situation they would become upright citizens. The crimes they commit are designed to supply their basic need of food. Investigation has shown that children mainly opt for street life after failing to put up with a prevalence of cruelty or poverty in
their own families. Save a prayer for vulnerable children.