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Only the timely intervention of a troop of military personnel was able to suppress the lawlessness of young football fans returning home after the match on Wednesday between Mountain City and Foulah Town in the COFA league played at the national stadium.

Eye witnesses report that around the Christ Church-Circular Road-Pademba Road junction, the youths banged on vehicles, smashed car window screens and snatched people’s properties.

With series of deaths and many acts of violence committed by youthful cliques and gangs last year, and more of such unlawful activities rearing their heads again this year during masquerades, the public is calling on the government and the law enforcement authorities to take a very proactive no-nonsense attitude towards this threat to the peace and security of the state and its people.

In the recent past, violence now looks like a tradition among young people in Sierra Leone. This is very worrisome as it affects our economy greatly and threatens the peace, stability and development of our nation.  The issue needs collective effort to tackle it. Stakeholders, especially policy makers, should get their acts together and plan well on the provision of sustainable jobs and empowerment of young people in the coming years. If we fail to plan for our youths, then the country will face serious problems as a result of growing number of young people already frustrated by the lack of jobs and other opportunities; they could be a force of instability and social unrest.

An idle mind is the devil’s workshop. As at present, there is great potential for violence to increase as the 2018 Presidential and Parliamentary elections draw near. There is a large army of unemployed and disgruntled youths that is ready for hiring by selfish politicians for violence. These youths don’t just like to be violent, they just want to be able to meet their daily survival.

Large groups of unemployed and underemployed young people destabilize their societies, fuel crime and create conditions where civil conflict becomes more likely. Violence among children and youths is an issue that needs to be examined and understood thoroughly. It doesn’t seem though that the government is seriously concerned about it. Recently we have heard demands for tighter controls and harsher measures for dealing with violence within the school system.

Are stricter, more severe law and order responses the best methods of dealing with youth and school violence or would other approaches be more effective?

There are the questions of whether schools and colleges should revamp their policies and practices concerning student behavior and student discipline, implementing conflict resolution programs, modifying curriculum to promote anti-violence messages and themes, and developing specialized programs for offending individuals. It appears though that the development and implementation of violence prevention policies and programs in the country is disorganized.

Indeed a serious cause for concern and red flag on the national level is now beginning to emerge because of the scale of actions of the youths, students and political groups holding this country to ransom.

Youth marginalization was one of the major causes of the civil war and that youth unemployment was also captured in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Report as a major issue. Research findings found out that most of the causes of violence hinge on poverty and illiteracy. It is the responsibility of the parents to take care of the children and it is not even the responsibility of government to take the place of parents.

Youths are accused of being useless and perpetrators of violence. But what has society done to cater for them to transform their lives? Youths are probably not happy with their conditions. They resorted to war in the 1990s because it was the only means available to them to address their grievances.

If we look at commercial sex workers, ghetto youths and say the youths are not serious, it also begs the question, have we tried them? If society fails to create opportunities for the youth they would create opportunities for themselves, notes the Bombali Youth Council chairman.

 

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