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Survey: Education key to reducing crime
By Qiu Quanlin and Sun Xiaohua (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-02-04 07:16

Criminal activities by migrant teenagers have been increasing in South China's Guangdong Province due to a lack of proper education within families and schools, according to a recent survey.

The survey, conducted by the Guangdong Provincial Prevention and Control of Juvenile Crime Organization, found that migrant teenage criminal cases accounted for nearly 52 per cent of the province's juvenile crime last year.

The survey was carried out across 10 major cities and over 20 counties in the province last year, including Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Dongguan, which have seen hundreds of thousands of migrant workers moving in over the last decade.

Guangdong currently has the largest number of migrant workers, accounting for nearly one third of the nation's total.

Officials and experts blamed the lack of proper education and protection by families and schools for the increase in migrant juvenile criminal activity.

"Most migrant youngsters quit school after they move to the province, and then begin roaming the streets," said Ou Hui, deputy director of the Guangdong Provincial Committee of Caring for the Next Generation.

Rural workers, who move to urban areas in search of work, usually attach more importance to money rather than good education, Ou said.

Ou called the situation "an empty education" within the migrant family, which has become one of the major causes for the juvenile criminal cases.

A migrant teenager surnamed Wang, who comes from the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, said his parents paid less attention to his studies after they moved to Guangzhou in early 2003.

After a row with his parents Wang left for Shenzhen.

It was in the southern city that the 17-year-old boy became homeless and joined a criminal gang comprising mostly youngsters.

Wang was detained by local police in November 2003 after committing a robbery.

Ou called for effective measures to prevent juvenile delinquency and create a favourable social environment for the growth of migrant youngsters.

"Protection of legal rights in terms of education and work is key to preventing migrant youngsters from committing crimes," Ou said.

He also called for government-run schools to give free access to migrant workers' children.

Usually, these children have to quit schools due to high fees.

"If the educational rights of the migrant children are encroached upon, they may violate the legal system in retaliation," Ou said.

Ou said that a complete database to collect migrant teenagers' information is also a must to strengthen the legal position of their parents.

Meanwhile, prefectural-level cities that still do not have drop-in centres for homeless kids have been urged to establish them in 2006, so as to protect children's interests and cut the number of teenage criminals, Xinhua News Agency reported.

Currently among the country's more than 280 large-and-medium-sized cities, there are 130 such centres for collecting homeless kids.

Criminal groups controlling and instigating youngster to commit crimes will also be major targets this year.

The decisions were made at a conference aimed at strengthening management procedures for protecting street children, which was held at the end of January and attended by 19 central government departments.

At the conference, it was said that funds would be increased to update equipment and improve staff in existing drop-in centres. More services, such as psychological guidance and different kinds of skills training, will be offered.

In 2005, China had about 150,000 homeless children, according to statistics from the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

(China Daily 02/04/2006 page2)

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