A man was recently robbed off his possessions as he returned home.
What is alarming about the robbery was that he was stopped as he was bicycling home from work in the evening. Not only was he stopped and robbed of whatever he had on him, including his bicycle, but he was even physically assaulted.
But what is even more alarming is that the crime was committed by six youth, not one of them older than 18. Five of them were even students.
No country, no society, is immune to some of their youth going astray, to the point where they end up crossing the law. But this recent incident is another reminder for us that boundaries are being pushed when it comes to youth crime.
The police did their duty and arrested the six. Prison most likely awaits them.
While the police must be commended for their prompt action, an arrest is an indication that society has failed these six boys somewhere. It is the last resort.
A few months ago, the police lamenting the rising youth crime despite preventative measures like their youth partnership programmes, wanted to introduce a bigger stick, and proposed that a curfew be imposed on youth. The police even began frisking youth for weapons if found in groups of two or more, after a certain time. Perhaps, these measures have led to a drop in youth crime. But for how long is a question yet to be answered. It could also have the opposite effect with more youth found to be breaking the law with more aggressive enforcement.
Because such measures only treat the symptoms of a disease.
It is a welcome move that the National Statistical Bureau has attempted to acquire more data on youth crime, besides just crime statistics, to prove what we already know: that poverty, unemployment, family conditions, and peer pressure caused youth to commit crimes. Now we have the evidence and now, we must focus on treating these problems so that we can minimise the symptoms.
Efforts are underway, entrepreneurship programmes are available, counseling is available, and other such youth outreach programmes, but what is important is that these efforts are coordinated and comprehensive.
With so many risk factors, we cannot have an uncoordinated approach to dealing with youth.
One way would be to invest more in the counselling programme in the schools. That way, we can identify at risk youth earlier, before they commit crimes. But for that to happen, our counsellors need to be better trained and free of other responsibilities. Any investment in a counselor potentially prevents at least one student from falling through the cracks.
Parents too can be educated on how to be better at their responsibilities. Many of our youth today are growing up with the television, internet and other media as their role models. It is important that parents are aware of where their responsibilities lie, and how to deal with their children when it comes to different scenarios such as values. It is important to be literate about the media by researching it and being aware of its pros and cons so that you may pass on such knowledge to your child.
We’re quick to blame the youth today whenever one of them crosses the law.
But for any change to occur, it must start at home and for that to happen, someone needs to teach the parents too.