06/12/2012 08:40

CBC General Secretary calls for cooperation against crime

By Fr Victor Roche - CBC Sec. Gen.

In a Commentary that will appear on the Catholic Reporter (Wantok newspepa) on 6 December the Secretary General of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands (CBC) reflects on the causes of urban crime and calls for government, Churches, families and civil society to join forces in addressing the plight of uneducated and unemployed youth.

5 DEC 2012. It was about 2 pm on a Friday some time ago. I was travelling with another religious brother in a car in the settlement area of Gerehu. Our car was very slow because of the traffic. Lots of people were in the streets. All of a sudden, I saw a man standing in front of our car with a gun. He was shouting “stop, stop!”. The driver stopped the car. Immediately, another young man opened the door of the driver and he forcibly pulled the bilum string bag from the driver.  The bag contained a purse with money, check book, cell phone etc. Both of them just walked away. No one chased them. By this time there were about fourty people standing around our car. They tried to console us.

From this incident, I like to reflect on why do people commit crimes? Why do these two young men steal?

Possible reasons for stealing:

  1. Poverty: Perhaps these two young men do not have jobs. Their family may not have food if they do not steal.
  2. They may have learned stealing from friends or peers: When young men are together as friends or as gangs, they learn to steal. They commit crimes in order to survive or just to have challenges in life.
  3. Family up-bringing: some families live on stealing, because they do not have income to the family. If a young man is a criminal who lives on crime, it is probable that his children will follow his ways.
  4. Unemployment: Many of our young people do not have jobs. They do nothing and walk the streets aimlessly. Some of them try to steal to make a living.
  5. Drug –addicts: Some people are addicted to drugs and they need money to buy drugs. They will commit any type of crime under the influence of drugs.

We cannot put all the criminals all in one or another category. Each one steals for his own individual reasons. But we should be able to find the root-causes. We have an increase in crimes especially in the cities of PNG such as pick-pocketing, stealing, rape, fighting, killing etc.

Two of the basic reasons for crime are: Lack of education: we have many drop-outs after Grade 8, Grade 10 and Grade 12. Lack of jobs: many young men and women are jobless even after their formal education.

Possible Solutions: Government, Churches and other relevant bodies work together for education for all in PNG. Education may give awareness and create opportunities for oneself for living a decent life. Awareness against stealing and crime should be taught in families, communities, schools, and Churches. (cbcpngsi.org – giorgiolicini@yahoo.com)