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 policeman demonstrates self-defense skills at a primary school in Huai'an, Jiangsu province. ZHAO QIRUI/FOR CHINA DAILY

Best intentions

However, implementation of the revised Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency Law has not been straightforward.

Yuan said some public security departments have only provided basic education to minors, instead of special corrective measures, after learning that the children did not meet the age threshold for criminal liability.

At the same time, the number of professionals who can provide corrective measures such as judicial social workers, along with the number of special correctional schools where young offenders can receive psychological help and behavioral rehabilitation, are also inadequate, he said.

Guidance on specific laws, and rules on what corrective measures should be provided to help delinquent children are also falling short, he added. Public security, judicial, and educational agencies should specify the provisions related to the special corrective measures to make their implementation more practical, Yuan said.

Zhao, the Beijing lawyer, said more social organizations should be encouraged to help in the rehabilitation of young offenders, with a greater focus on problems related to left-behind children and school bullying.

As of April last year, China had about 233,500 social workers. Of those, nearly 30 percent worked in judicial affairs, conducting social research and providing psychological assistance, according to the Central Committee of the Communist Youth League of China.

The league has also invited about 5,000 legal and psychology specialists to attend its think tanks to answer questions from children and their guardians.

"Children, especially the very young, need more care, attention, and aid while growing up. The law, or punishment, is just one of many ways to help them tackle their issues, but it is not the only way," Zhao said.

"When compared with punishment, it is more important to establish a work system with enough team members and practical measures to help delinquent children identify and solve their mistakes, so they can return to and integrate back into society," he added.

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