The National Police has just launched the second campaign to sensitise the youth on harmful social activities such as prostitution, robbery and drug addiction.
What a commendable job! The other day, I was thinking so much about how this world could be like, without criminals.
It was a nice debate within me alone. I didn’t conclude though, because I was already so biased.
Now, let me just tell you a story about what the Police Force’s launch of this campaign reminded me of.
I will never forget that cold night when I and my girlfriend were attacked by a gang of five thugs in our neighbourhood.
We were walking back to our apartment after supper when a group of thugs masqueraded as community security men (Irondo) suddenly bumped into us from a dark corner.
We could not believe our eyes. Honestly, we smelt a rat. Something was not right. Their attire was terrifying. They were hiding their faces with caps, so that their noses could not be seen.
My girlfriend started trembling when one of them asked us to identify ourselves.
I knew it was going to be bad news. It is strange to be asked to identify yourself when the person soliciting you to do it is holding a knife and a club in his hands.
The only thing that ran through my mind was that we would only survive by God’s mercy.
Suddenly, a speeding car with strong lights approached the scene, from a nearby highway. The gang was scared and they ran away. We also fled away, running like antelopes being chased by hungry cheetahs.
The boys must have thought the car was for police on patrol. That is how we survived swords. Our encounter was one of the cases reported in Nyamirambo at that time.
Such occurances are not only in Nyamirambo mark you, even developed countries like the USA, UK, France, Germany and others encounter such problems.
Youth crimes are common and serious concerns everywhere.
For us in Rwanda, it is not, however, too late to deal with these crimes and save our next generation. We can collectively work it out. Now is the time.
In June 2008, there was a summit in Durban, South Africa on Youth Crime Prevention and Cities.
The conference was hosted by the Department of Community Safety and Liaison of the Provincial Government of KwaZulu-Natal, on behalf of the Government of South Africa and co-hosted by UN-HABITAT on behalf of the United Nations
The conference attracted hundreds of participants and youths who shared their experiences, and ideas on how to prevent the crimes committed by the youths and children.
Most youths participated by writing essays, poems, rap lyrics, sending pictures or a short video. These all explained their ideas on fighting crime hence making their city safe.
The topic was ‘Youth and Children Championing Community Safety for a Better World.’
To me, this was a good topic to debate. Now that our National Police Force is involved in a campaign related to the same topic, as a youth, this is what I suggest for the betterment of our community.
I believe that crime harms our communities. They create a culture of fear and damage the lives of most vulnerable youth, as well as the members of our families.
Reducing crime and improving our justice system should be a central part of our effort to build safer communities and to tackle the problem of social exclusion.
I like the community policing policy. It is necessary in the prevention of crime.
When police work together with the community, a partnership is formed.
Together, the police and community can discuss and identify specific problems in their area in order to reach viable solutions.
After all, it is only in building trust between and among these groups that youth crime can be effectively tackled.
This has been a solution not only in Rwanda but in many countries. I think the USA can bare us witness.
So far, it seems to be working, as it allows everyone in the community to be the “ears and eyes” to criminal activities like drug abuse, rape and robbery.
One important aspect you cannot ignore is turning to God as a fundamental in dealing with the challenges that youth face.
God can give true meaning and direction to the youth who follow Him. Therefore, they need to make Him a part of their lives throughout the day by reading his word, the Bible or Quran and by seeking Him in prayer.
The Bible says, “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation” (Mathew. 26:41). Prayerlessness leads to sin.
I strongly recommend the police to consider spirituality in their campaign.
If, for example, the youth that participated in slaughtering close to a million innocent Rwandans in the 1994 Genocide were God-fearing and spiritually rich, the bloody days and nights that befell our beautiful Rwanda would not have happened.
Now, my girlfriend and I can walk down the street at any time of day or night, without the fear of being attacked by a group of young, deviant boys. Can you imagine if all cities and slums are like the then Nyamirambo?