Scores of teenagers and parents (or guardians) in the Borough of New Kru Town were warned that “small-small stealing leads to death.”
The notion of “death” caught their attention, given that most of them have visual recollections of the many episodes of mob violence against rogues (thieves) which has usually resulted in death; not to mention the deaths of several young men who have been electrocuted
while trying to illegally connect people to the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) power grid, all over Bushrod Island, Monrovia.
However, there were sighs of relief and exchange of glances amongst them when they were also told, “If you do not want to die, stop stealing.”
The Acting Coordinator for the Justice Ministry’s Child Justice Section (CJS), Ms. Tomah Kennedy added, “stealing means taking another person’s property (anything) without permission or legal right and without intending to return it.”
“When you steal, you can die from the beating or by going to jail,” Madam Kennedy said.
The children and parents were also challenged to stand up against juvenile delinquency by staying in school, saying no to drugs, alcohol, and violence.
She gave admonition over the weekend at the New Kru Town Hall during a program marking a one-day ‘Juvenile Delinquency Prevention Dialogue’ with serious emphasis against theft in the community.
The keynote speaker, Edwin Folley McGill, said parents should provide counseling for their children against bad habits, which include stealing, violence, among others.
Mr. Mcgill is the Acting Assistant Minister for the Bureau of Corrections and Rehabilitation at the Ministry of Justice.
He said young people must be responsible and avoid unlawful acts that would deny them their rightful place as useful citizens.
Minister Folley informed the gathering that his responsibility at the Ministry is to jail people, including young people, who come into conflict with the law, and also provide correction and rehabilitation.
He stressed that young people can avoid going to prison when they stop stealing, engaging into violence, doing drugs and also committing crimes in and outside of their communities.
The juvenile delinquency prevention campaign is organized by the CJS with support from UNICEF.
New Kru Town, a slum community, is one of the high-risk communities for juvenile crime.
Minutes after the end of the dialogue, several young participants expressed gratitude to the Child Justice Section and the UNICEF for the dialogue and promised to spread the message.
Several young people won prizes for their active participation during the dialogue, which was also marked by drama performances from the Ministry of Justice Peer Educators.
In an interview with Madam Kennedy, she disclosed that the ultimate goal is to stop children from getting into conflict with the law.
She informed the Daily Observer that CJS is expected to move to another community. She added since the establishment of the Child Justice Section in 2010, the CJS has made progress in helping juveniles in the various prisons in the country.
Madam Kennedy disclosed that similar initiative was held in Bong County early this year where over 350 young people benefited.