Published: 11:04, April 17, 2024
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Courts told to focus on juvenile crimes
By Cao Yin

Chinese courts, while continuing to protect children through case hearings, have been mandated by the Supreme People's Court, China's top court, to focus more on juvenile crimes and the underlying issues behind them.

The directive, which aims to create a better environment for minors to grow up under the rule of law, comes in response to the persistent severity of juvenile delinquency in recent years, with cases showing an upward trend.

From 2021 to 2023, over 98,000 individuals under the age of 18 were criminally punished in more than 73,000 cases, according to the top court. It highlighted internet addiction, insufficient family care and school bullying as major issues requiring urgent attention and resolution in addressing juvenile crimes.

Of the minor offenders, nearly 60 percent who committed robbery, theft and violent crimes were found to be long-term internet addicts, or were more susceptible to harmful online influences. Additionally, about 30 percent of juvenile defendants who committed violent crimes between 2021 and 2023 came from left-behind or single-parent families, indicating a lack of parental care, education and supervision as contributing factors.

Many cases revealed instances where young criminals had either bullied others or been victims of bullying in school, without timely intervention from school authorities, leading to more serious offenses. In response, the top court called for a collaborative effort among schools, families, social organizations and government agencies to establish a joint work system to address bullying and ensure timely assistance for bullied children.

The work system will also address the problem of internet addiction.

Judges across the nation were also told to proactively address the needs of children involved in lawsuits, providing stronger legal education to both the children and their parents to correct misbehavior and prevent juvenile delinquency.

The top court emphasized the importance of high-quality handling of cases to combat juvenile offenses. Public security departments were urged to conduct tighter inspections on entertainment venues, where many juvenile crimes and incidents in which minors are victimized occur.

While addressing juvenile crimes, courts were also been urged to take measures to protect the legitimate rights and interests of children and women who are victims. Chinese courts issued 5,695 personal safety protection orders last year for women experiencing domestic violence, up 41.5 percent year-on-year — the highest growth rate in nearly five years.