DUBAI // An average of five crimes a week are committed by children, with the figure expected to rise over the summer break, according to police. Dubai Police registered 110 juvenile crimes carried out by 161 children in the period between January 1-May 31. Most were cases of physical and verbal assaults and robberies, police reports show. A study by the police crime prevention department revealed that crimes by children, mainly thefts, rise significantly over summer.
Among the factors the report identified as being behind the rise were a lack of parental oversight and negative peer pressure, combined with long hours of free time. "Parental supervision is the main requirement for curbing juvenile crime," said Major Gen Khamis Mattar al Mazeina, Dubai's deputy police chief. "Therefore fighting this kind of crime is a joint effort between police and the family.
"One needs to understand the necessity of filling the time of these teenagers with something positive. "The majority of crimes happen because there was an opportunity for them to happen. "They are one-offs. However, this is dangerous because it has a negative impact on a person's future, and on society." Youngsters in Dubai carried out at least one theft per week last year from June to September, police said.
The most common thefts were breaking and entry, and street thefts where a victim's attention was diverted before they were robbed. Offenders were also caught stealing cars and bicycles. The study showed that juveniles tended to carry out crime because of a low level of awareness about the seriousness of such misdemeanours under the law. The offences were often committed on the spur of the moment, said Lt Col Ahmad Bin Ghalita, head of the Dubai Police crime prevention department.
"It is difficult to deal with such cases as consideration is often shown to the children and their families. "In many cases the children do not have prior intentions to carry out the crime," he said. Among precautions police have taken are to ensure popular gathering places are closed earlier. Patrols disperse groups that form on the street late at night, to avoid potential conflict, he said. Summer work and volunteerism were also effective methods of curbing juvenile crime, said Leena al Amiri, a consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist.
"Encouraging teenagers to work during the summer builds their personality, makes them more responsible and channels their energy into something positive," she said. firstname.lastname@example.org