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Bad school experiences affect juvenile delinquency
(China Daily)
Updated: 2004-10-25 11:00

Nearly three quarters of China's juvenile delinquents had poor grades, were ostracized and cut school before they became involved in crime, a recent survey shows.

Guan Ying, a researcher with the Tianjin Academy of Social Sciences, found poor grades and other unpleasant experiences at school are for many minor offenders a starting point on the road toward delinquency.

In a study that tracked more than 2,000 juvenile delinquents across China, Guan found 74.2 per cent of the young offenders had quit primary or junior high school before they became involved in various crimes.

Nearly 93 per cent of juvenile delinquents in cities used to play truant when they were at school, according to Guan.

"Some 40 per cent of the young offenders said they cut school because they hated schoolwork and another 27.1 per cent said the pressure was unbearable at school," she said.

As grades are often an important yardstick in judging a student's performance and overall quality at Chinese schools, those with poor grades tend to feel they are inferior and isolated.

These children, who are often regarded as outcasts at school, are also constantly reproached and punished at home, which discourages them even more from going back to school, she added.

Children who are not doing well at school need friendship and other emotional support to relieve their pressure, said Guan.

"Driven by a thirst for friendship, many youngsters gather in gangs and stand firmly with each other, even in committing crimes," she said.

In fact, Guan said many young offenders start to show early signs of moral aberrance in junior high school, often when they are 14 and reaching puberty.

Parents and teachers, therefore, should be on guard against early signs of moral aberrance in youngsters in order to lead them back to the normal track as soon as possible."

Inadequate home education was found to be a major factor in many cases of juvenile delinquency, according to Guan's study.

While most parents stress children's moral standards more than anything else in their home discipline, many young offenders' families often give more priority to their children's grades.

"Proper ideological guidance from teachers and parents could have kept many minor offenders from committing crimes," said Guan.

On the other hand, easy access to karaoke bars, cyber cafes and violent or obscene videos and publications is also undermining the moral well-being of many youngsters, says the expert.

Young offenders' access to these entertainment facilities is an average 50 per cent higher than ordinary city children with no offenses, Guan found in her study.

Despite government crackdowns on illegal Internet cafes and game rooms, going online and indulging in unhealthy material is a growing factor leading to juvenile delinquency in China, says senior lawmaker Gu Xiulian.

Juvenile delinquency has remained a critical issue in China and figures provided by the Supreme People's Procuratorate show that minors made up 9.1 per cent of all suspects detained nationwide in 2003.

This was a rise from the 6.7 per cent reported in 2000, said Sun Qian, a deputy procurator-general, at a recent meeting on the prevention of juvenile delinquency and betterment of public security work around schools.

"Most young offenders are involved in thefts, robberies, kidnapping, blackmailing and drug addiction and trafficking. Many cases involve use of violence and some even involve rape and murder," said Bai Jingfu, vice-minister of public security.

Earlier this year, China made public a package of proposals on raising the ideological and moral standards of the country's 367 million young people under 18, including more publicity campaigns, educational reform and investment in projects for young people.

According to the document issued by the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee and the State Council, China will launch publicity campaigns to teach primary and middle school students to value life, say no to drugs, advocate sciences and civilization, and oppose superstition.

It promises efforts to correct and help minors with a poor record of conduct. At the same time, it vows to reform curriculum, textbooks and teaching methods in a bid to lessen the academic burden on primary and middle school students while stepping up efforts to build up young people's ideology and morality, their spirit of innovation and capacity to practice.

Meanwhile, the Chinese Govern-ment has built 130 centres for homeless children nationwide..

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