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People and Politics Forum 20. 06. 2008

"How can juvenile delinquents be stopped?"

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More information:

Fighting Teen Crime – Speedier Sentencing for Juvenile Offenders

Private security guards are a growing presence in Berlin’s public spaces, there to clamp down on juvenile violence and crime, which statistics show is on the rise. The culprits are usually youngsters from deprived backgrounds, and many come from immigrant families. Once they’ve been caught, months can pass before they appear in court. Experts -- including judges -- agree that juvenile sentencing needs to be speeded up. The call for improved efficiency in dealing with juvenile offenders has been welcomed by politicians and police.

Our Question is:

"How can juvenile delinquents be stopped?"

Hannelore Krause, Germany, writes:

"Violent youths should be punished as swiftly as possible, so they know why they are being punished. The sentence should be sensible - our judges are often derided by criminals for their feeble sentences. A politician in Hamburg said it well recently: "Many Germans don't dare to criticise violent foreigners, because they are afraid of being called Nazis". My advice to judges is: Do what you have to do!"

Stephan Pabel, Brazil:

"If we believe punishment is the way to deal with violent crime by young people, quick trials and quick sentences are doubtless not a bad idea. But it would be better to improve the prospects of young people in general. That would remove the psychological sources of violence. We should invest in youth projects, integration programs, and training for social workers and teachers. If you save money on social programs, you have to spend three times as much on prisons."

René Junghans, Brazil:

"The main problem has to do with the way children are raised. If children grow up in loveless or violent households, they pass on to the world around them what they have learned at home. If these children are also taught badly at school, and they grew up in poverty, they look to other kids with similar problems for protection. The question is not how such children can be stopped or punished, but how they can be helped. We adults must offer our young people better opportunities, otherwise the prisons will be ever fuller, and people's hearts ever emptier. When I see reports about young people involved in violence and crime, I always wonder why people bring children into this world, if they are not willing to raise them with love."

Ursula Fischer, Canada:

"Young repeat offenders are a worldwide problem. Even here in Canada people do not go out on the streets after it gets dark. But there is crime even in broad daylight. The worst ones are young girls of twelve and older."

Oliver Rentzow, Singapore:

"I suggest that the German government take a look at Singapore. The draconian punishments here have produced one of the safest countries in the world. The police here don't play around. A prison sentence is a very unpleasant experience. It may offend the democratic feelings of Europeans, but it works wonders."

Gudrun Uhlenbrock, Peru:

"The solution of this problem has to start much earlier: in society, in the family. Some parents vent their frustrations about unemployment, lack of social contacts, addiction problems etc. on their children. If a young person has become violent, the only thing that helps is a long period of therapy, not a traditional children's home and certainly not prison."

Gerhard Seeger, Philippines:

"Many young criminals rely on the slow workings of the justice system, and they hope to get off easy because they are young. Certainly psychological help should be maintained, but they must understand that being young does not give them a right to commit crime. They need swift and appropriate punishment. It makes no difference to the victims that the perpetrators were young."

Graham McCormick, USA:

"It's quite simple: birth control!"

Vladyslav Hlukhovskiy, Ukraine:

"There is no link between criminality, poverty and unemployment. Some very poor countries are relatively safe. Why are Egypt, Ethiopia, Syria, Bhutan and Nepal much safer than Europe? I believe the cause of crime is excessive tolerance."

Herbert Fuchs, Finnland:

"I am not in favour of everything that comes from America, but I think carrying a weapon is OK. If the man in the Munich subway had had a pistol, he would not have needed the help of a security guard. They are never around when you need them anyway. In the case of such a wicked attack on a peaceful person who was almost killed, I truly believe that America, in particular Texas, where people carry their weapons openly, is light years ahead."

Erich Prinz, Thailand:

"I believe that people aged 14 and over ought to know what is against
the law. It cannot be right that a 15-year old cannot be convicted for
a brutal act of violence because he is still a minor. I think
politicians ought give their attention to how 15-year olds can be more
severely punished."

Rafael, Mexico:

"I think military training is the solution for young repeat offenders -
like the so-called 'boot camps' in the United States."

The People and Politics desk reserves the right to edit and abbreviate texts.