Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Child Crime and the Solution

Recently the rate of juvenile delinquency* in Japan has been increasing. Many pundits have raised it as a hot issue. There may be a lot of reasons for the increase of juvenile delinquency in Japan: for example, the structural change of family including the breakdown of the traditional large family, the increase of divorce and fatherless/motherless family, the unemployment and overwork of the breadwinner and so on.

*juvenile delinquency
The regular committing of criminal acts by a young person.

However, what increases juvenile crime in Japan is not clear, so there have been a lot of conjectures about it in Japan. Personally, it is natural to think that it is closely related to the way to form family, because it is family or some alternative groups like an orphanage that brings up children.

What caught my eye as a way to solve the problem of juvenile crime is to punish rather the parents for their children’s wrongdoings. The juvenile crime rate was actually reported to decline remarkably after the law took effect, according to some research.

Therefore, we may think of it as one of the most effective solutions to decrease the juvenile crime.

However, it is not a new idea: there used to be such a traditional punishment on the parents in a village society in Japan: if their children had done something wrong, the parents would have been punished. Moreover, the punishment was not usually compulsory, but voluntary: the family refrained voluntarily from making public appearances.

It seems to be somewhat similar to the old Japanese way to take a responsibility for the wrongdoings, hara-kiri.

It can be thought to keep the community safe and to prevent their children from graduating from petty thievery to serious crime.

Interestingly, not everyone considers the punishment on parents a shining model.

According to the cons, children's parents cannot(or shouldn't) be punished unless they have done something wrong.

However, if they really wanted to prevent their children from committing a crime, the punishment on the parents would be one of the most effective policies to reduce juvenile crime. The tradition of such a collective responsibility as once existed in Japan as a way to keep the community orderly, though some people see it as totalitarianism, is thought to be a proof that it was actually effective to some extent.

Is the punishment on parents an effective way to avoid juvenile crime? If you think so, why?

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