Long-term quarantining provokes juvenile delinquency

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Juvenile delinquency decreased to some extent as of February 2021, but recently there have been an increase in reports about serious crimes involving children.

According to the National Statistics Office, juvenile delinquency accounted for 4.9 percent of all reported crimes in 1999, 5.1 percent in 2005, 2.3 percent in 2010, 4.1 percent in 2015, 2.9 percent in 2017, 2 percent in 2018, and 3.4 percent in 2019.

As of February 2021, 37 cases involving children were registered, a decrease of 42.2 percent compared to the same period of last year. Particularly, 2.4 percent of all defendants involved in crime are children under 18 years of age. Of 1,797 defendants convicted in the first two months of 2021, 18 were aged between 14 and 15, 25 were aged between 16 and 17, and 660 were aged between 18 and 29.

Source: the National Statistics Office of Mongolia

As of July this year, 296 crimes involving minors were registered nationwide. Compared to the same period of the previous year, this figure decreased by 37 cases or 11.1 percent.

Generally, crimes involving children had declined earlier this year, but serious juvenile crimes occurred in recent days. 

For instance, on August 7, a homicide took place in Bayanzurkh District where an 11-year-old boy allegedly killed a 13-year-old relative and critically injured a seven-year-old in a knife attack. According to Head of Media Management Department B.Baatarkhuu, the 11-year-old is being inspected to determine whether he was under the influence of drugs or has mental disorder.

Moreover, at around 4:00 a.m. on August 10, a serious traffic accident occurred in 7th khoroo of Chingeltei District. In particular, a 12-year-old boy died in the accident and four children were taken to the National Trauma and Orthopedic Research Center. The children, aged between 12 and 16, reportedly stole a car and consumed alcohol.

According to statistics, the most common forms of crime are theft and intimidation in Mongolia, and minors commit property-related crimes. However, psychological instability caused by long-term quarantine may lead children to commit serious crimes, asserted some exports.

EDUCATIONAL ENVIRONMENT IS ESSENTIAL FOR CHILDREN

Psychologist O.Unurtsetseg said that most of crimes committed by children are due to lack of experience and skills to properly assess the current situation and phenomena, and to fully understand and assess the social consequences of their actions in a short period of time.

The reasons why children commit crimes are related to many external and internal circumstances. For example, poverty, unemployment and economic hardship are the main causes of crime.

Statistics show that children are more likely to commit hooliganism at school and in the streets, and that the majority of victims are children of the same age. According to statistics, the main cause of juvenile delinquency is school dropout. Dropping out of school leads to child labor, abuse, criminality and victimization.

When children drop out of school, their self-esteem declines and they spend most of their time on the streets without a real purpose in life. Such children learn negative social behaviors and engage in destructive social activities, O.Unurtsetseg stressed.

Eighty percent of children in juvenile detention did not attend school at all or had just graduated from fourth grade, while 90 percent did not have a specific job or school they attend before committing a crime. The study was conducted in 2019, and shows how important education and educational environment is for children, so it is obvious that there has been a change in the mentality of children who have not studied in the classroom since November last year.

Children develop socially and become individuals in the school environment. School should be the most conducive environment for children to learn, develop, communicate, and mature.

However, the lack of such an environment is one of the reasons children commit crimes. In other words, during the lockdown, children spend more time playing e-games and on smart devices than studying. Some types of e-games can instigate children to commit a crime since they often imitate the things they sea and hear.

Moreover, children are more likely to commit crimes as children are taught about the law and civic duty for a short period of time in secondary schools and their knowledge is limited. For example, according to a survey, 40.1 percent of juvenile offenders did not think about the crime or its consequences, and 30.1 percent did not know that it was a criminal offense.

Alcohol also contributes to juvenile delinquency. According to a survey of 400 children convicted of crimes, 14 percent had been under the influence of alcohol. 

Due to many factors, such as social problems, family discomfort, parental neglect or divorce, children become addicted to drugs and alcohol to cope with their emotional distress, according to Head of the Child Crime Prevention Department of General Police Department D.Budzaan. 

In addition to education and alcoholism, among children who committed crimes, the majority were orphans, half-orphans and children with stepparents. In particular, the family environment and parental example have a significant impact on children’s likelihood of committing crime. Children’s behavior is negatively affected by the fact that parents regularly consume alcohol, quarrel, fight, insult, commit crimes, or act cruelly to their children. According to the survey, 53.8 percent of children who committed crimes were abused by their parents.

Today, about 90 percent of children who committed crimes had a family problem. People try to earn money to feed their children, but they neglect to raise their children to become good people.

Generally, the reasons why children become victims of crime are related to their mental state. For example, they may be affected by situations such as lack of life experience and lack of supervision from parents or loved ones.

HOLDING PARENTAL NEGLIGENCE TO ACCOUNT

Penalties for juvenile delinquency include community service, travel restrictions, and confinement in special educational institutions.

Under Mongolian law, children over the age of 16 are criminally liable. A child involved in a crime is liable under the Constitution, the Criminal Procedure Code, and other laws. A juvenile who committed a crime is entitled to benefits under the law, which does not violate the principle of fairness. It is related to the principle of humaneness, which is one of the basic principles of the rule of law. This benefit depends on the nature of the crime, the extent of the damage, and the age of the child. Legal action against a child who committed a crime is aimed at educating the child and making them aware of the crime.

Obviously, it is more important to prevent children from re-offending than to punish them after they have committed a crime.

The United Nations Guidelines for the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency emphasizes the need for the community as a whole to make effective efforts to prevent juvenile delinquency. The most important aspect of this guideline is that a child has the right to make mistakes. The idea that children should be educated rather than punished for crimes is a fundamental principle in the prevention of juvenile delinquency. Therefore, it is important to educate children who committed crimes, to provide them with human rights knowledge and practical skills to implement legal norms in order to prevent such crimes in the future.

One of the most fundamental principles, which plays an important role in ensuring the rights of children, is protection of the rights of children as a matter of priority. In accordance with Article 4.2 of the Law on Protection of Children’s Right, the state, citizens and business entities must adhere to the principle of ensuring interests of children in their activities. This principle applies to all children, regardless of whether they committed a crime.

The most important way to prevent juvenile delinquency is to take comprehensive measures to protect children’s rights and accelerate social development, and to focus on poverty. International experience has shown that it is more effective to provide children with the necessary social services than to keep them under the supervision of law enforcement agencies.

There is a need to create conditions for healthy growth, education, knowledge and proper upbringing of children, improve cooperation between organizations, reduce unemployment and poverty, and intensify crime prevention.

The police warn that one of the main reasons for juvenile delinquency is parental negligence. Experts also recommend that parents regularly monitor their children’s emotions, behaviors and moods, and spend time with their children. In other words, parental negligence can lead to children committing crimes and harming others. Therefore, there is a real need for a legal system that takes legal action against parents who failed to bring up their children. This will push parents to take care of their children and raise them properly.

Misheel Lkhasuren

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