children on laptops in a classroom

Crime and Punishment – from the streets of Uganda to the world!

This month’s inequality question focused on the dilemma, “If people commit crimes like theft to survive, should they be punished?”

We received 77 responses and they were viewed more than 300 times (so far)!

Today, our Drop-in Centre in Jinja was packed with children passionate to engage with the discussion and share ideas with people from all around the world.

A wide range of opinions was presented. Some people believe that theft should be punished by all means no matter if it is for survival, while others point out that it is not always practical to focus merely on punishment because people may repeat the same mistake even they are punished.

Let’s check out some of the comments…

Some People think theft should be punished even if it is for survival…

  • Yes, they should be punished because theft is not a survival means. (Mwene from Uganda)
  • If a person has worked hard to buy something and it’s stolen, then yes, they should be punished. People value things they work hard to get. No one has a right to each other’s possessions. (Richard from the UK)
  • I think they should be punished because instead of looking for small jobs to earn a living, their minds will be on stealing because it is the easiest way of getting what they want. (Claire from Uganda)

Some people think that instead of punishment, we need to seek other ways to resolve the problem…

  • How can you punish someone if they are just trying to survive? Instead, you should help them not punish them. Punishing them won’t solve the problem. (Woodhaven school pupils)
  • No, they should not be punished because some people only need to be told what is wrong and right than being punished since they do it for survival. (Mutonyi from Uganda)
  • No, if someone is starving they should not be punished as they need to eat food. (Woodhaven school pupils)


Some other interesting ideas…

  • Maybe it depends on the type of crime. If a violent crime yes but if a non-violent crime then no? (Woodhaven school pupils)
  • We come from the land of Robin Hood! But yes, people should be punished. On a case by case basis. But there should be support available if they need help. (Leigh from the UK)
  • I am a police officer and I can tell you that often punishing people doesn’t stop them doing crimes. We need to think of ways to help them and not just punish them. (Helen from the USA)
  • If someone has no other option and it’s either starvation or theft to survive, does that make a difference? Every society should be set up so that everyone living within it can eat, drink and survive – if there are people within that society who can’t access these basic rights the society needs to change to enable that to happen. (Dan from the UK)

In conclusion

In this month’s discussion, we have seen many thought-provoking as well as some contrasting answers from people in the UK, Australia, Uganda and the USA. Thank you for everyone who joined in. The children find it so interesting to exchange ideas with people from around the world.

We hope to receive more comments in the discussion next month. Thanks again for sharing your ideas and we look forward to seeing you again next month!

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