Teenager's killing puts juvenile crime back in the spotlight

Legal experts raise questions over effectiveness of intervention, rehabilitation efforts

By CAO YIN | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2024-04-24 07:04
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A juvenile offender hugs his mother at a rehabilitation institution in Nanchang, Jiangxi province. LIU ZHANKUN/CHINA NEWS SERVICE

Preventive measures

While lowering the age threshold, China has also optimized supporting measures through legislation revised in 2020 to deal with juvenile crimes and strengthen rehabilitation of young offenders.

The revised Law on Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency, which came into effect in June 2021, states that minors convicted of crimes but exempt from criminal punishment — such as those under the age of 12 or whose offense is not violent — should receive education and rehabilitation.

Data released by the SPP in 2022 showed that the number of juveniles prosecuted for committing offenses in 2021 increased by 24.2 percent from 2017, and the criminal charges mainly involved theft, rape, affray and robbery.

Crimes committed by offenders between the ages of 14 and 16, or even younger, became more frequent during the 4-year period, with the number of minors involved in telecom fraud rapidly rising.

Yuan Ningning, an associate law professor at the China University of Political Science and Law, told China Youth Daily that before juveniles commit crimes, most have been involved in illegal behavior that was not stopped by effective and early intervention.

To solve the problem, the 2021 prevention law requires stronger management of minors, and stipulates that children who seriously misbehave should be educated and rehabilitated in special correctional schools.

Whether to send delinquent minors to correctional schools needs to be jointly decided by education and public security departments. It also must be clarified that the rehabilitation process has closed, and public security and justice agencies are in charge.

These stipulations are measures complementary to criminal punishment, Yuan said, adding that delinquent minors of all ages can be regulated by the rule of law in this way.

"Adolescents are inseparable from their families and schools. If they are simply detained, it will not be conducive to their socialization and could easily lead to greater security risks after they are released," Yuan told China Youth Daily.

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