Public outcry on destruction of property by students, high school. This is a joke you would say. Results or whatever made these students burn schools, what happens in a mind of an arsonist? Before one answers that, defining arson would be justice and I found one definition from a Criminal Investigation book by K. Hess, they say, ” Arson, the malicious willful burning of a building or property”. This is a crime against property and people and one of the oldest form of breaking the law.
Fire is good and bad, good because it eats up everything the perp intended for it to be eaten and the same time bad because it can kill and a big destructor. In Kenya, not many police officers are trained to investigate fire crimes and even securing a fire scene can be almost impossible. Have you ever been in a crime scene in Kenya? People will never listen to what they are being warned against, like a child willing to eat sweet, candy reaches for it no matter what. We are always unstoppable Kenyans. How can one safely secure a fire scene in Kenya without the curious minds of people wanting to see what to take from the scene, investigating if there is something to score for free?
And did you also know there are classifications of fire? A natural fire is one set intentionally to destroy weed, refuse or waste products in industries or providing warmth during the cold July months. Accidental fires are normally set unintentionally from faulty connections in the homes or schools, offices and who is to blame? Mostly the homeowner who left her gas leaking or the greedy electrician who felt he or she has learnt enough from watching youtube videos and can now be an electrician. There can also be causes like sun’s rays. I remember this when we were young, the bushes behind Laikipia Air Base always burning and Majoni and the Jeshi spending hours sometimes days to put them out. But the rumours were always, some illegal hunters, were smoking and intentionally left some cigarettes on the dry grassland to chase the wild animals to their direction for easy catching and shooting.
Criminal Fire, like the one these students set, is to intentionally destroy, cause harm like destroying buildings and sometimes to kill. The fire must always to be proved that it was never accidental or natural. But who sets fire accidentally in schools, unless the cooks wanted to burn you. But, do they use gas for cooking. Never saw it even in our ”upscale” high school. Maybe they do nowadays in some schools, I don’t know.
Then there is a fire which due to unknown reasons, simply started and decided to begin causing damage. Such a fire, I believe is very dangerous because, ”it just happens”? Yet, we say nothing just happens. Irony of life. Which of these was caused by these selfish boys and girls? You guessed it, criminal fire. The funny thing though is fires are considered accidental or natural unless there is sufficient evidence to say otherwise.
There are some elements to these crimes of fires and they include: Crime of arson is defined as the malicious, willful burning of another’s house or building. This is a serious offence that in Kenya warrants a life in prison charge. Other elements include economic gains, to destroy, revenge. Arson also varies in its classification from aggravated to simple arson, attempted arson and setting negligent fires like the one I told you about.
What is the profile of an arson in Kenya? Mostly, Kids under the age of 18, who are disgruntled by the school system, simply want to quit and are tired of being ruled by headmasters, tired of bad ugali and mboga and fail in schools or are poor performers and simply don’t love schools. Some come from economically well-up families, while some or majority from poor families who some may say were lured in the process of gaining economically from the rich boys and girls. These juveniles involved in firesetting to cause grievous harm and malice to property as a way to revenge or avenge. There are normally curious or experimental, troubled or in crisis, delinquent and emotionally disturbed. They feel wronged therefore justify their actions by exercising control over others above them. They are also meant to cause fear and excitement which some of them thrive by, on. They are motivated by a number of factors which include, malicious mischief, revenge, sabotage, intimidation, alcoholism, diversion tactics and spite.
Prevention? What can be done to prevent arson attacks in schools by these juveniles? Offer a platform where these cocky students can be heard. What? Do we still have time to listen to these sick students or under eighteens? Yes, we should have if we haven’t been listening already. I am setting fire to simply show you I am in control and I will be because, I am getting my wish for going home true. I am a teenager and I work on a short fuse, okay? Listen to them, their suggestions. And don’t just impose laws which yourself cannot fathom or even swallow, send some representatives to these schools, provide questions, discuss and find possible solutions from these questionnaires. You may say, this is time consuming. Think about it, is fire better then? Gradually approach change. These kids have read a lot on the internet just like you have and they know when they are being bullied yet they have paid. Can you please, take these changes with baby steps. Approach them gently making sure you reach every school also keeping in mind others are underdeveloped than others. Some changes will not work in others while others will. Try to introduce an all inclusive programme where these kids are energetically involved with their intellects to provide innovative solutions which can work per school.
Students. Stop peer influence. Some are hardly affording school uniforms or fees or books yet you are burning for them their property, how do you expect them to continue learning? Isn’t this the beginning of a culture of unemployment and thuggery plus thievery that you are creating from when you are young? Why not use this strategic burning brains to create strategic growth plans for schools. Why ruin your lives now and regret ten, twenty years later?
Parents, would you mind stopping your child from playing with fire or a matchbox and influencing his or her decisions? You went through that bad school, got a great job, are earning a decent salary, are living in upper middle class to upper class lifestyles. Why not encourage your kid to follow suit? Why after being accused, are you shielding your child by transferring him or her to schools abroad? Don’t you know arson is like death? What happens later? Are you grooming a murderer? Please.
Teachers, you’re exerting your tyrannical control over kids who want to be heard and not controlled by the iron rod? Why? Don’t you know the best answer is not to say, ”you will not control me but how do we control or minimise such careless approaches”? Think about it, you have a role to play, play it cunningly but gently while using your iron fist.
What’s your take on burning not just of schools but of property? Has a fire ever changed your life? Do share, hearing from you is always awesome.
Comment as you state what the ultimate punishment and deterrence methods for arsons this third and final trimester should be in schools? We will sample your answers in a Q&A style for easier access for the future readers. Be genuine, you can be rude but considerate to these kids. Talk.