Children under the age of nine are caught by criminal gangs in Sweden and have to pay large sums of money to leave them, a new study shows.
The news agency TT has asked the social services in all the country’s municipalities to describe how young children are recruited to criminal gangs. The answers they have received show that children under the age of nine are recruited, and that the social services are struggling to get the children to break up with the gangs.
One of the reasons for this is that the criminal gangs demand that the children pay large sums of money to break with the gangs. The problem is increasing in several municipalities.
– It’s about children, and that’s what’s so disturbing. There have always been young people in crime, but it is escalating at the same time as the violence in the gangs is getting worse. It is very disturbing, says Monika Boström, group leader in the social services in Örebro.
TT has received responses from 62 percent of the municipalities. 14 percent of them answer that they struggle with children under the age of 18 being in criminal gangs. Several municipalities that previously did not struggle with child crime, report that the situation has changed.
This applies not only in the big cities, but also the social services in, for example, Motala, Skövde, Uddevalla, Karlstad and Borlänge report similar problems.
– We have not previously had any gender-related problems among the youngest. But now we see that a group has come to our municipality that worries us a lot, says Thereze Lundborg, unit manager in Kalmar municipality.
– No one dares to silence the gang, some are so young that they go to sixth grade, she says.