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Escalation in Child Involvement in Swedish Gang Criminality

The Times We Live in: Swedish ‘Child Soldiers’ in Gang Criminality

Are you a parent or caretaker in Sweden? Perhaps a concerned community member? The recent headlines in the Swedish newspapers might have caught your attention. A worrying trend of child involvements in gang criminality is on the rise. Let’s dissect this complicated issue together.

When did Childhood get so Dangerous?

In the past year, Sweden has noted an alarming increase in the involvement of children, especially those between 15 and 17 years, in serious violent crimes linked to gang criminality. Traditionally associated with African civil wars, the phenomenon of ‘child soldiers’ has dreadfully emerged in Sweden.

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The Swedish newswire TT reports that in the year 2023 alone, an unprecedented number of children have been prosecuted for murder, attempted murder, or conspiracy to murder. As many as 22 individuals, all aged 15 at the time of their crime, have been indicted by September. These figures reflect a significant surge compared to the previous five full years, with quantities fluctuating between five and nine.

“Between January and August 2023, 84 cases have been launched against teenagers aged 15 to 17, in contrast to 53 for the entire previous year- or eight a decade ago”.

Moreover, there were about 30 instances where the suspects were 14 or younger, hence not legally liable – a considerable rise from 23 cases in the whole of 2022.

Who’s Behind the Trigger?

Senior criminals, according to Prosecutor Karin Hammar of the South Prosecution Chamber, who has charged several fifteen-year-olds for severe violent crimes with gang connections, systematically exploit these children.

“Boys who were previously errand runners are now being groomed into murderers. They are based all over Sweden and often travel from one part of the country to another to kill for payment”.

The Unseen Victims & Shattering Families

The tragedies don’t stop here. It’s not only those who become perpetrators but also children who fall victims to this heart-wrenching ordeal. Three boys aged between thirteen and fourteen disappeared, each within weeks of each other between late July and early September. All were found dead, dumped in forest areas on the outskirts of Stockholm—an alarming number of young souls lost.

The Urgent Cry for Help

Simultaneously, child rights organization Bris has been receiving increasing calls from children as young as eleven involved in gang criminality, fearing for their lives.

“‘They describe an acute situation filled with immense fear. They want out, but the gang makes it clear that they will be ‘cut’ if they leave,’ Bris Secretary-General Magnus Jägerskog told TT in October”.

The Local Swedish Police’s Take

Since 2019, local police have been compiling local situation reports to describe criminal structures. The police identify criminal actors in four levels A-D, with A-actors being gang leaders and D-actors being children at risk. In 2023, the police listed the following individuals in each category:

– A-actors (gang leaders): 1,078
– B-actors (perpetrators): 3,998
– C-actors (offending youths): 3,246
– D-actors (children at risk): 2,047

“In addition to this, the police identify 21,000 potentially involved individuals”.

These escalating figures and worrisome incidents reflect a pressing need for decisive action to curtail this trend and safeguard Sweden’s children. Let’s unite as a community and shape a better future for our children.

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