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People and Politics Forum 06. 08. 2010

"How do you tackle kids who repeatedly commit crimes?"

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More information:

Stolen Youth -- How Drug Clans Misuse Children as Dealers

There has recently been wide media coverage of boys aged 12 or 13 years old selling hard drugs in Berlin. Criminal Arab clans bring them to Germany. When the police catch them, they can't be punished because they are under 14 years of age. Nor can the criminal clans by deported to their home countries. Politicians, police and educators are looking desperately for a solution.

Our Question is:

"How do you tackle kids who repeatedly commit crimes?"

Hannelore Krause from Germany wants an end to gentle wrist-slapping:

"The criminal children mentioned in this report are youths who are presented as children so they can't be jailed. They have no passports or identification papers. If these 'children' are caught pushing drugs, they ought to be locked up or put under constant surveillance. If they are children, the state has a certain duty to take care of them that it is clearly not fulfilling. They have been able to flee custody, go underground, and go back to dealing drugs, which they can't be prosecuted for because they are underage. If it turns out they've been falsifying their age, they ought to be punished severely and deported. We don't need criminal immigrants.

Put them in detention homes, says Gerhard Seeger in the Philippines:

"The children are caught, put briefly in a home, and then have to be released. And then they're back doing the things that got them arrested in the first place . Setting them free doesn't really do them any favors. They get older and know nothing but the drug scene; they probably can't really read or write. It's pretty sure they'll remain in this criminal drug scene. They should be kept in homes! If they grow older there, it may not be the best, but at least it's a better starting point for life than if they remain in the drug scene."

Amine Bendrif in Morocco wants to integrate the problem children:

"A pariah does not leave school with disadvantages, he first ENTERS it with disadvantanges.So we should look at the social background of these kids, understand their problem and try to reintegrate them in society. They are victims of the victims. We dont need more restrictive new laws, we need more competent social workers."

Majed Zakarya of Iraq says the causes should be investigated:

"The question should be: Why do children become criminal? When we know the reason, then we can talk about what measures to take."

Salvatore Ricca in the United States thinks exposure to adult criminals would be a deterrent:

"As a person who has dealt with child criminals, I think one of the best ways to scare them into change is to expose them to adult criminals in prison who started out their childhoods with similar crimes to the kids'. It doesn't always work, but seeing these adults who threw their lives away to prison for crime does put fear in them. The looks on the kids' faces tell the story, they get intimidated, and sometimes do change. Letting them off without showing them where their behavior can lead is a key to why they repeat crimes."

Kornelia Owings in New Zealand wants to fight the problem by deporting the adult instigators:

"Why can't the Arab criminal gangs be deported back to their home countries? They are using vulnerable, innocent children to do their dirty work for them. What are the politicians afraid of? I know Germany now likes to think of itself as a multi-cultural nation, but the rule of law needs to be respected and laws need to be passed to protect the next generation coming through and if this means sending people back to countries they were born in, then, so be it!"

In Brazil, René Junghans believes:

"Criminal kids should be locked away in supervised custody. They should be re-educated, receive vocational training and then eventually become loyal citizens in society. It's not the children's fault. It's bad upringing by the parents and a no-good environment that's to blame. Parents should be thrown into prison if it's proven that they persuaded their offspring to sell drugs or commit other crimes."

And, says René Junghans, people should not play the moral card:

"Kids can't tell the difference between right and wrong, They learn from their mothers and fathers. But just letting them drift around to commit new offenses is not the answer."

The editors of “People and Politics” reserve the right to abridge viewers’ letters.