Kwabena Otuo Acheampong: Curbing Student Violence And Vandalism
On many occasions, we have read reports of students causing various forms of destruction to State and personal property of individuals. Such reports always receive mixed reactions from sections of the society.
While some condemn such acts in no uncertain terms, others also justify the actions of the students. In this write up, I will attempt to situate such students’ acts in the context of the Constitution, Criminal Offences Act, Act 29 , the Childrens Act, the Juvenile Justice Act, Public Order Act, and other relevant laws. I will also attempt to suggest how we can bring to an end such behaviours or reduce such incidents.
One of the definitions of a student is: a person who’s studying at a University or other place of higher education.
The Constitution of the Republic and other laws are applicable to all person’s living anywhere in Ghana, unless it’s explicitly stated otherwise. For instance, section 26 of the Criminal Offences Act indemnifies children under 12 years from committing a crime. According to the Childrens Act a child is a person under the age of 18. The juvenile Justice Act defines a juvenile as a person under 18 years who comes into conflict with the law.
From the definition, it’s without any ambiguity that, children under the age of 18 are capable of committing crimes.
The law is undiscriminating and all persons are equally protected under our laws irrespective of status, class, etc.
Being a student is a status that does not confer immunity from the laws of the country.
The violent and destructive behavior of students of the University, Senior High schools, Technical, Vocational and other places of higher education who are not below 12 years but, either below or above 18 years is criminal and therefore punishable.
Intentionally and unlawfully causing damage to another person’s property, stealing, causing harm,etc have all been criminalized, whether they are committed by students or on higher education campuses.
The jurisdictions of law enforcement officers are not limited by space, community or group of persons in regards to students and higher learning environments.
There are reported cases of students committing various crimes on campuses ranging from dealing in narcotic drugs, internet intrusions, fraud, stealing, causing unlawful damage, causing harm, assaults, sexual offences and others.
It’s not uncommon to hear that, one hall of university residence has attacked another violently. Senior High and Technical students attack teachers and staff of their schools and destroy and steal property. Students spontaneously besiege and block roads, impede traffic and attack and rob drivers and passengers.
All these are criminal conducts which should lead to arrests, investigation, prosecution and punishment.
Any person who commits a crime should be arrested to answer for their crimes irrespective of who they are, where they are or how long it may take law enforcement efforts. This is the surest way to guarantee a disciplined and an orderly society.
The recurring and repetitive conducts of violent and destructive acts of students may be because such persons are not made to answer for their crimes. When this happens, there’s an urge and the propensity to commit similar crimes by the same students. Other students do not also learn lessons.
Regulations and punishments are what build decent and disciplined societies. Punishment leads to corrections. It also remind us of lessons learnt. Punishment doesn’t destroy us, it builds us up.
The Broken Window Theory states that, we can deal with major crimes when we pay attention to minor infractions to the law.
People’s inclination to criminal conducts develops when it’s not dealt with immediately.
If students can agree together among themselves for any violent, destructive or criminal behavior, it suggests that, such persons after school are capable of committing any major crime against the State.
Students must transform by renewing of their minds.
The author, Kwabena Otuo Acheampong is a law enforcement officer.
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