Teens target of holiday crimes-Police

County Police Commanders and County Commissioners in Mt Kenya region have issued a red alert on the risks facing teenagers and youth during the long holiday season, putting the burden on parents to form a protective barrier to ensure their children are always in secure environment.

Top risks facing teenagers and youth, security chiefs said, include rape, recruitment into criminal gangs, inducement to drugs, manipulation into suicide and exposure to dangerous environment. Mt Kenya region is one of the top crime areas in Kenya, data shows, and its bordering of Nairobi only helps to increase crime.

A police report indicates that for crimes reported to the police by command stations for the period 2014 to 2018 countrywide, Nairobi County registered the highest number at 8.1 per cent followed by Kiambu and Meru police command stations at 7.9 per cent and 6.4 percent, respectively, in 2018. “While we shall do our duty to ensure law and order is maintained, it is the par

ents’ responsibility to ensure they know the whereabouts of their children at any given time during these holidays,” said Nyeri County Commissioner David Kipkemei.

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County Police Commanders and County Commissioners in Mt Kenya region have issued a red alert on the risks facing teenagers and youth during the long holiday season, putting the burden on parents to form a protective barrier to ensure their children are always in secure environment.

 Top risks facing teenagers and youth, security chiefs said, include rape, recruitment into criminal gangs, inducement to drugs, manipulation into suicide and exposure to dangerous environment.

 Mt Kenya region is one of the top crime areas in Kenya, data shows, and its bordering of Nairobi only helps to increase crime. A police report indicates that for crimes reported to the police by command stations for the period 2014 to 2018 countrywide, Nairobi County registered the highest number at 8.1 per cent followed by Kiambu and Meru police command stations at 7.9 percent and 6.4 per cent, respectively, in 2018.

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“While we shall do our duty to ensure law and order is maintained, it is the parents’ responsibility to ensure they know the whereabouts of their children at any given time during these holidays,” said Nyeri County Commissioner David Kipkemei.

“Manage them with assignments and other responsibilities to keep them busy and ensure that you are in charge and in control because this will be a time when if we do not take care, we shall lose many of our children.”

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Although crime data for 2019 is not available, cases of lost children, abductions targeting kids and teenagers, rape and defilement, recruitment into illegal gangs among other things continued to be reported in the national media throughout the year.

Police statistics indicate that for the last five years, incidents committed in all the crimes categories have increased. For instance, the number of homicides increased from 2,649 in 2014 to 2,856 in 2018, according to provisional data.

Offences against morality increased from 5,184 in 2014 to 7,233 in 2018, while offences against other persons increased from 19,911 in 2014 to 25,049 in 2018, while offences relating to dangerous drugs increased from 4,850 in 2014 to 8,021 in 2018. Gangs, initiation Security chiefs say opportunity for teenagers and the youth to be recruited into illegal gangs like Mungiki is real.

Several reports attributed to the police have pointed to activation of several Mungiki cells in Murang’a and Nyeri counties.

“Parents should monitor their children to ensure they do not fall into the trap of recruitment of illegal gangs that have been reported in some areas,” said Murang’a County Police Commander Josphat Kinyua.

Being the circumcision season in the region, Kinyua called on parents to ensure the initiated male children are well taken care of in secure places, citing last year’s case where an initiate, a bright student, was harassed to death.

“Let the children be with their parents and assist them with domestic chores. Let parents also take care of their children, especially during the initiation period. Last year, I was not in Murang’a but I know there was an incident where a boy was bullied to death in Kandara,” said the police chief.

“Those with boys that age, take care of them and avoid some cultures that may bring loss of life. That boy from Gatitu was the brightest in his class and died just before his KCPE results came out. We don’t want a recurrence of such a case and though our culture must be followed, parents must ensure their sons are not manhandled in the name of initiation.”

A penniless holiday? A key challenge for the region will be reduced cashflow because of the drop in the prices of commodities that the region depends on for livelihood. Tea bonus, which is paid out around this time of the year, dropped by nearly half. The same case befell coffee payments earlier this year. The dairy sector, which sort of provides the subsistence cash for daily use, has also been hard hit.

New KCC just announced that it will be buying milk at Sh20 per litre, a massive drop from a high of Sh35 that farmers sold earlier in the year and a price they say makes the dairy farming profitable. Security bosses worry that a combination of these factors will create demand for people to fundraise for Christmas holidays through other means, crime included, an eventuality that may pull in teenagers and the youth as they seek to meet the peer pressure trends of partying and buying trendy clothes. Parental burden Police have warned that parents of children aged below 18 found engaging in crime will be held responsible.

 “We will deal with the children caught on the wrong side of law and their parents will also have a case to answer,” said Nakuru County Police Commandant Stephen Matu.

The county police boss was, however, quick to add that police were on the lookout in all towns in the region and its environs to ensure children were not exposed to drugs and alcohol, sex or pornographic materials.

 “All video games and movie sheds are under our watch and we will ensure that no criminal activities are conducted therein,” he said. On cases of children being kidnapped, or raped and murdered, the officer said Nakuru did not have such cases, adding that necessary measures have been put in place to ensure children are secure.

 “The county has only had one case of abduction of a schoolgirl who was raped and killed in Subukia. We have deployed sufficient officers and measures to ensure that such an incident doesn’t recur,” he said.

In Nyeri, County Commissioner Kipkemei also laid the responsibility on children. “You all understand this will be a long holiday and there are people who want to take advantage of that. We are asking for good parenting to avoid early pregnancies due to negligence, “ said Kipkemei.

 “We do not want a scenario where our children will not be able to report back to school in January because they got pregnant during the vacation because of parents’ negligence.” Nyeri Central Sub-County Police Commander Paul Kuria advised parents not to allow children to accompany them to places like bars where non-adults are not allowed.

“Parenting is important and should not be delegated. But today, parents are happy when children are away in school with teachers. They complain when children come home during vacation instead of taking advantage to advise and mentor them,” said Kuria.

Kuria advised parents taking their children for initiation during the December holidays to take them to organised places like churches where they are initiated in groups. In Kirinyaga, County Commissioner Jim Njoka said chiefs and their assistants have been instructed to work with the police and make sure all drug dealers are arrested.

“We must also make sure children are not left to do as they wish but must be involved in family projects, children want to help out, even if they don’t seem to act like it. Getting them involved in family projects grows morality and a sense of teamwork in the family, and that is a natural deterrent to substance abuse.” Njoka said.

“Cut their access to the internet. Excessive access to the internet not only creates addictive tendencies but it also exposes young people to imagery and video content that encourage drug use and premature sex.” Njoka said parents should be aware of the high incidences of suicide in Kirinyaga and therefore take precautions by engaging their children closely and monitoring their behaviour and that cases of defilement are often committed by relatives.

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Mt Kenya regionTeenagersCriminal gangsHoliday crimes