The impact of crime and violence cannot be overemphasized, the phenomenon of crime have increased dramatically in recent decades and is now recognized as serious economic and social problems, particularly in urban areas. While crime is a national problem, its control is primarily a responsibility of local units of government.
An inability to prevent or deal effectively with acts of criminality has a number of negative consequences. When individuals commit violations and escape being processed through the criminal justice system, future illegal acts are encouraged.
This is why the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) invited over sixty experts from all over the world to United Nations Office in Vienna to develop practical and interactive educational materials to help teach secondary level students to identify, prevent and resolve moral, ethical or legal dilemmas. Secondary education encompasses two age groups: lower secondary (12 to 15) and upper secondary (16 to 18). The ultimate aim is to foster practical understanding and critical thinking on rule of law issues linked to the UNODC mandate areas.
The purpose of the expert group meeting is to generate recommendations on the issues that Education for Justice should address, as well as specific teaching methods to be used and materials to develop at the secondary level. This will be done in discussion with the various experts in the field of education and UNODC mandate areas. Ultimately, the meeting will help Education for Justice shapes its work in the years to come, taking into consideration the recommendations from the experts attending the event.
One of the Nigerian representatives at the meeting, Casey Olugbenga Adeleye, National Coordinator, Youth Crime Watch of Nigeria shared his experience in youth crime prevention and criminal justice system during the meeting and this was acknowledged by many experts as thought provoking initiative, most especially in Nigeria.
Ms. Patience Stephens, Director/Special Adviser on Education, UN Women has this to say, “I was delighted to hear you during the meeting repeatedly presenting and articulating the needs and perspectives of youth in Africa. Very well done! You may have noticed that your interventions received rapt attention as they helped steer the discussions into practical directions.”
No doubt, citizens in Africa and Nigeria in particular suffer greatly when it comes to issue of crime, terrorism, violence, extremism and radicalization and little efforts have been done by government and security agencies to bring down the situation.
It is my view that prevention strategy must be in place and government including security agencies at all levels must embrace a multi-stakeholders approaches to crime prevention and public safety in order to provide safer communities and schools for learning and living.
In Nigeria and virtually all African countries, there hasn’t been a council unlike over twenty countries of the world which has National Crime Prevention Council, a council which comprises of private and public organizations, security agencies, concerned stakeholders, and educators who design programmes and projects on crime prevention and raises funding for such initiatives. If we pay adequate attention to crime prevention in schools and communities and make our young people and adult citizens, agents for preventing crime and violence, our society will be a better place to live and to learn.
Above and many more were the views of my very self at the just concluded UNODC Expert Meeting on Secondary Education for Justice. It is a knowing fact that an escalating crime rate requires that resources, which could be devoted to other social problems, be diverted to the crime-control effort, resulting in the further entrenchment of such ills as poverty, substandard housing, and inadequate medical delivery systems and therefore, all hands must be on deck to control and reduce crime and violence in our nation.
If crime rates increase, our system of government faces the real possibility of a crisis of confidence in its ability to maintain the welfare of the public and a final major impact of crime is upon the fabric of social relations and living patterns. People become fearful of strangers and of being on the streets after dark; homes become fortresses and families move to new locations in search of a secure life. A terrible reality is that until significant inroads are made in controlling crime, the overall quality of life is lower than it could be.
It is the duty of everyone to find lasting solutions to criminal acts and behaviour; or together face its consequences and have an unstable and unbalancing future. Crime affects everyone and we don’t have to be its victims.
Casey Olugbenga Adeleye is of the Youth Crime Watch of Nigeria and African Centre for Citizens Orientation, an NGO in special consultative status with UN ECOSOC