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Unstoppable youth crime is destroying our social fabric

Kundiawa market
Kundiawa market


KUNDIAWA - Deviant behaviour is defined as behaving contrary to or outside the moral and ethical guidelines or rules in society. Deviants are people who break rules and often act abnormally.

Deviant youths are manipulators who con others; they tell lies, cheat, are aggressive and violent, and steal. They involve themselves in crime because they don’t know the difference between lawful and unlawful, right and wrong, moral and immoral.

Juvenile delinquency associated with drug abuse is a serious problem that undermines the fabric of our society. We live in constant fear that our security is at risk because there is no social cohesion, customary laws and morality to control the aggressive behaviour of young people.

They have a tendency to destroy property and freely take things from others. In towns, police are helpless and can’t do much to stop these problems. In fact, there are far too many good people who do nothing to stop the problems.

Contemporary youth culture has developed a tendency to abuse alcohol and drugs resulting in the rise of crime which puts a great burden on themselves, their families and the community. Today’s youth problem is complex and there are many structural and underlying issues. It is calamitous and requires intervention programs and new strategies to manage it.

The youths drink and take drugs to cope with feelings of uselessness in the community and see no meaning in life. They feel rejected and don’t feel part of the community. They lack self-confidence and self-worth. They manipulate others and claiming to have authority over others.

There is much drinking in villages and towns because the social environment is not properly controlled by community leaders, including the police. The whole community tends to be involved in heavy drinking and drug use. It is unmanageable.

Like any PNG town, Kundiawa is full of unemployed youths, psychopaths, street kids, street sellers, drug dealers, street preachers, pickpockets, beggars, prostitutes and parasites.

The whole town of Kundiawa has become a market place with rubbish everywhere and town authorities and police seem powerless to do anything about it.

On street corners and in public places you can see youths drinking, smoking and gambling. Some sell plastic bottles filled with ethanol or home brew alcohol for K5 or K10 a container. You can see youths selling drugs rolled in pieces of newspaper. Sometimes it’s difficult to identify because marijuana is mixed with tobacco leaves.

When youths are drunk, they demand or steal from anybody: money; mobile phones and other valuables. You will see youths running to catch a thief but they don’t catch him as they are feigning. They all cooperate to execute illegal activity.

Long hours are spent in town doing nothing and at night hanging around in front of stores, beer clubs and night clubs looking for opportunities to steal. A lot of strange things happen in town; you can hardly believe them.

The traditional employment of living on the land has been spoiled by the current education system where young people go to school wanting to get employment in town. Instead of cultivating their land for cash crops, they drift into town attracted by the bright lights and, when they find no employment, they resort to illegal activities to make money for survival.

In the absence of spirituality we seemed to have a lot of problems with no known solutions. Our traditional values have declined and young people feel they have no meaning in their lives.

Modern technology, especially TV and the internet, does not support families or youths, programs being filled with obscene and destructive information and extreme violence.

So what is the solution?

There is no quick solution to solve these problems but one way to assist juvenile delinquents is to avoid labelling them as bad people in society. They are troubled human beings and imposing tough penalties is not going to solve their problems. We have to be empathetic and show interest in them as human beings who have the potential to become people.

We need to look at how we can provide options to change their lives.

All people are able to change and we must enable allow them to change their deviant behaviours into authentic selves. Change comes from within. Well directed education and appropriate therapies will allow them to recognise their problems and find their solutions.

We need to reform our schools by including personality development courses, encouraging religious commitment, teaching ethics and morality and modelling good character formation. Our youths today do not have proper guidance to cope with the escalating behavioural dilemma. We also must maintain the cultural norms and values that regulate our behaviour.

Prevention being better than cure, we have to provide holistic precautionary measures for today’s children to be better citizens tomorrow. The behavioural problems will not be eased until we restore human beings. Indeed, this should remain the focal point of developing solutions.

The escalating problems of youth and their deviant behaviour has weakened social cohesion and is a threat to this developing nation.

We will not prosper as a nation if we don't address the youth problem which is now a major impediment to our society achieving progressive development.


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Paul Oates

The problem Philip is a canker that is affecting many societies today. The lack of ethical leadership and the lack of clear and desirable purpose.

In the 'old days' this was handled by drafting the nation's youth into armies and attacking the outsider or traditional enemy.

Today, that alternative has been papered over without any logical alternative offered or determined. That is basically because those in leadership roles are not really leaders but charlatans who pose as leaders to receive the spoils of the position.

The only alternative apparently available to control our societies from disintegrating is fear of retribution and promoting something useful that can be enthusiastically supported.

Service Clubs are often a source of good ideas if they are supported and encouraged. Police Citizen Youth Clubs, Church sponsored welfare and health projects, Senior Citizen discussion groups may all have constructive suggestions if they are consulted?

A Youth Corps is another alternative but who is prepared to organize and run it? Barbara Short raised her contact with a group of young Sepiks who were organizing themselves to get useful things done. I wonder how they are now going?

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