slim billboard, salem, season 5

Why young boys drop out of school to join criminal gangs – Salem

18 October 2023
The alarming rise in young boys dropping out of school to join criminal gangs has become a pressing issue.
'Mi ndio nilikuleta hapa' – Salem Image : 2096

Watching the latest on Salem, you realise Tito has opted to drop out of school and join Kifaru's mbogi (gang).

Kifaru, the gang leader, was actually hoping it would be his son Ken who would instead be interested in such criminal activities. Is this a true depiction of what is happening in Kenya today?

This issue has deep-rooted causes, including socio-economic factors, lack of access to quality education, and the allure of quick money and power. 

Socio-Economic Factors:

One of the primary drivers of school dropouts among young boys in Kenya is poverty. Many families struggle to make ends meet, and sending their children to school becomes an unaffordable luxury. In these circumstances, children may be forced to quit school and seek employment or income-generating activities to support their families. Unfortunately, some of them end up in the criminal underworld, lured by promises of financial gains.

Lack of Access to Quality Education:

Inadequate access to quality education is another major factor pushing young boys toward criminal gangs. In marginalised areas, schools may be understaffed, lack essential resources, or be situated far from home. As a result, children face significant obstacles in obtaining a good education. The absence of quality educational opportunities can lead to a sense of hopelessness and disillusionment, making criminal gangs seem like viable alternatives.

Peer Pressure and Influence:

Peer pressure plays a pivotal role in pushing young boys towards criminal gangs. Many of these gangs have a strong presence in certain communities, and they actively recruit new members, often appealing to their desire for a sense of belonging and power. Being part of a gang can provide these boys with a distorted sense of identity and self-worth, which may be lacking in their personal lives.

Lack of Positive Role Models:

The absence of positive role models and mentorship exacerbates the problem. Young boys may not have access to adults who can guide them toward making positive life choices. In such cases, criminal gang leaders become the de facto mentors, offering a distorted sense of guidance and purpose that often leads to illegal activities.

Quick Money and Power:

For many young boys, criminal gangs promise quick money and a semblance of power, which is enticing. They may be exposed to tales of gang members who have seemingly achieved financial success and elevated social status. The allure of this lifestyle can overshadow the importance of education.


The consequences of young boys dropping out of school to join criminal gangs are severe. It perpetuates a cycle of poverty, violence, and crime in their communities. The lack of education limits their future prospects, making it difficult for them to escape the clutches of criminality. In the long term, this trend negatively impacts the economic and social development of the entire nation.

Addressing this issue requires a multi-pronged approach, including improving access to quality education, and economic opportunities, and providing mentorship and positive role models for these vulnerable boys.

By addressing the root causes of this problem and offering support and alternatives, Kenya can begin to break the cycle of young boys dropping out of school to join criminal gangs, ensuring a brighter future for the next generation.

Catch Salem every Monday to Friday night on Maisha Magic Plus on DStv Channel 163, #BomaYaLocal