FIRST, it was the flaffies and the junkies terrorizing innocent residents in the compounds of Lusaka – grabbing their phones, their wallets, and their merchandise and even sometimes beating them up.
The police was aware of these group of criminal youngsters and even knew some of the persons involved but did little or nothing to stop it.
Then it was the youth and student gangs in Kitwe and other Copperbelt towns that began terrorizing residents.
Again, grabbing their belongings and merchandise at will and even assaulting some of them.
Some of the boys involved were eventually apprehended, taken to court but that was all we heard about their case. Latest information is that some of those boys are in fact back on the streets and still engaging in lawlessness.
And now, it’s the report of small boys, in groups of up to 12 or more, grabbing personal items from people or stealing from homes during day and night in the Matero, Lilanda and Zani Muone West residential areas.
Just two weeks ago in Matero Township, another group of boys was busted which used the roof of one of the houses in the area as a hideout during day and during the night terrorized unsuspecting residents by beating them and grabbing their personal items.
We may of course go on and on to mention the various reports of criminal activities and gangs by the boys in Lusaka and the Copperbelt in particular.
But what is of concern to us is the people involved in this nature of crime and what implications this behaviour could have on our nation in future.
Boys, by nature, are too young to be involved in criminal activities because no one expects them to anyway. Just like girls, these boys are expected to be in school, learning, and preparing for their future because that is the normal thing for them to do.
That they are now getting involved in gangs and criminal activities, it is a sure indication of a breakdown of discipline, morals and systems in our society.
This should definitely be cause for great worry for us, as a society, about the sought of future we are likely to have if some children are already training to become hardcore criminals.
We call it a breakdown in morality because children, by virtue of being children, are expected to be obedient and respectful to elders and generally to everyone in society.
But if we could have them harass and beat up people, and grab personal items from them at will, then we have definitely cause to worry because it is a clear indication of a defiant attitude and lack of respect.
It should call for concerted efforts by government, specifically the law enforcement agencies, the Ministry of Religious Affairs, the Ministry of Sport, Youth and Child Development and society at large, to correct the situation which has already gotten out of control.
The boys and the youth getting involved in crime come from homes, and it should therefore start with their parents or guardians to first instill some sense of obedience, responsibility and respect into them before the rest of society does.
This initial step of instruction to the boys, even girls, is key as it will basically help shape them into how they behave and interact with the rest of society.
But government, through its law enforcement agencies and respective ministries and departments, has a greater role to play too to ensure they correct those that the parents and guardians fail to mold.
It is another important step too and should act as a necessary safeguard to ensure children grow up into responsible citizens.
Involvement in criminal activities by young people, particularly the boys, is a serious situation which demands serious efforts by everyone in society, to correct the situation.