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ARTICLE: What should we do to decrease the number of Juvenile Crime?

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14 Mar 2002
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Chiharu Kanakogi is a 2-year student at Sophia University majoring in English. Below you find his excellent term paper.

What should we do to decrease the number of Juvenile Crime?

Section 1: The present condition of Juvenile Crimes in Japan (Introduction)

In modern society children are the focus of public concern. One of the reasons why the general public began to be concerned about children is that the number of juvenile crimes (especially cruel ones) has increased recently. I'll pick out the"Kobe murder case" as an example of juvenile crimes, and see the present condition of juvenile crimes in Japan.

The train of cases including the murder ones happened in Kobe, Hyogo prefecture,Japan in 1997. (So we call it the "Kobe murder case") There were two shocking matters which made people around Japan (especially the citizens of Kobe) shiver all over with terror in this case. One is that the suspect cut the head of the boy who was killed in this case out of his body and put it in front of a school gate. The other is that the suspect who committed such a cruel crime was a 14 year-old boy. Nobody could believe (or wanted to believe) that a boy of fourteen committed murder in such a cruel way.

I felt a chill going down my spine when I knew the dreadful fact that the boy was enjoying murder as if he played a game and he became sexually excited while murdering. This kind of murder is called "pleasant murder (kairaku-satsujin)" and its definition is to murder not for revenge or profits but just for pleasure. (Oda 16) In the Kobe murder case, the boy (the murder) felt a pleasant sensation by destroying a object (the victim). I felt it abnormal to kill someone for pleasure. What made the boy sick mentally?

Section 2: What makes children sick mentally to commit a crime?

Today's children look cheeky because they develop well and have a lot of knowledge in comparison with the ones in the past. So the adults sometimes see them as if they were grown up. But children are still immature mentally even if they have the bodies of a grown-up. And children are suffering under today's complicated society.

Nowadays children seem to be not good at making good human relationships, and the lack of good human relationships causes children to go wrong and commit a crime. The reason why they are poor at making reliable relationships is that the chances and places to communicate with others are decreasing. In the old times, school was a place in which children could not only acquire a lot of knowledge but also make good relationships with friends and teachers. But nowadays most school put stress on examinations, and encourage students to study hard and get high marks at exam. In Japan in which school diplomas count greatly, a "examination war" is one of the most serious problems. It is natural for children to spend their time playing outside with friends and learn how to make good relationships while playing, but in fact they don't have enough time to play with their friends because they have to go to a cram school to prepare for the entrance examination. To make matters worse, children regard their classmates not as friends but as rivals. In such a competitive society, children always feel stress and are afraid of falling behind the others in class. Most children study hard not for themselves but to live up tp their parents' expectations. Maybe they fear that their parents might not pay attention to them any more if they drop behind the rest of class.

The relationship between parents and a child also has a great effect on children's mental state. If parents who should love and protect children use violence against children or abandon them, children will lose the biggest spiritual support. On the other hand, excessive expectation of parents is nothing but a pain in the neck for children.

The lack of good human relationships(with friends and with parents), the "examination war" and so on cause children stress. When stress builds up and reaches its limit, children "kireru" (it means to be able to stand their stress any more and give vent to it in the form of violence or delinquency. If parents don't notice that their child feels stress and needs their support at that time, the mental state of children will become worse and worse, and some of children might commitan irreparable crime like murder.

Section 3: Should the Juvenile Law be amended now?

After the "Kobe murder case" happened, there has been much debate about what the Juvenile Law should be. Of course parents whose son or daughter is the victim of the "Kobe murder case" claim that the Juvenile Law should be amended right now to judge the minor who committed a cruel crime more correctly and strictly. In their opinion, it is strange that the murderer is protected by the law just because he is a juvenile, while their children's futures were deprived by him and their children's information was spread around Japan through the mass media. They also say that the suspect should be required a heavy punishment and be criminally liable for what he did, that is, the minor should be judged in court in the same way as the adults are. And the general public who were shocked by the "Kobe murder case", and pity the victims killed in the case and their relatives argue that the suspect who is nineteen and under should not be punished according to the Juvenile Law if the crime he or she committed is extremely cruel. They criticize the Juvenile Law and cry for the amendent of the law just because times are changing and the number of cruel crimes which the juvenile committed is increasing.

On the other hand, people who are in a position to protect the juvenile (who committed a crime) and know the details of the Juvenile Law, think that there is no need to amend the Juvenile Law because the number of the juvenile crimes will not decrease even if the law is amended. On the contrary, some of them insist that the Juvenile Law should not be changed because if the juvenile's information is spread in their community, they will not be able to get back to normal life though they are still immature and have a possibility of reforming themselves.

Though there are arguments both for and against the amendent of the Juvenile Law, we should know more about what the Juvenile Law is before debating about the amendent. Under the law,the juvenile mean people who are under nineteen, and if the juvenile commit a crime, the crime is regarded as a delinquency and they are judged in a family court by the Juvenile Law (that is,in the different way of the adult's case). The law which was established to make rules in judging the juvenile (the Juvenile Law) was put in force in 1949. This law was established for the purpose of making the juvenile growing up healthy and protect the juvenile delinquent to make them reform themselves and get bock to normal society. Different from the adult's criminal judgement, the juvenile who are under fourteen don't be punished(receive any sentence) in judgement because they are in the middle of the growing process, and the cause they committed a crime may consist not in themselves but in their parents or their environments. Nevertheless,some people who are not familiar with the Juvenile Law say the law is too easy to make the juvenile take their responsibility for their crime. But in the lawyers' opinion,to restrict the freedom of the juvenile is a kind of punishments.

Besides the rule of no punishment,there are some differences between the trial for juvenile crimes and the one for adult's criems. First, in a family court, there are two possible judgements which the suspect (the juvenile) is handed down. One is no punishment, and the other is protection (it means to force the juvenile to be protected by the nation). The ways of protection are to observe the juvenile's normal life, to send them to a nursing home,and to send them to a reformatory. Secondly, a trial for juvenile crimes is not open to the public(is held behind closed doors). Thirdly, there is no prosecutor in a trial for juvenile crimes, so the judge serves as the prosecutor.

Section 4: The way to decrease the number of juvenile crimes (Conclusion)

What can we do for decreasing the number of juvenile crimes now? The important thing is not the amendent of the Juvenile Law but that the adults notice the problems the juvenile have and give a loving hand to them in trouble. The person who helps the juvenile doesn't have to be their parents. It doesn't matter people who notice the juvenile's problems are teachers, relatives and neighbers. But the real question is, it is difficult for the adult to notice the juvenile's SOS sign in modern society because the relationships among family and among local community are getting thin (weak). It is not rare that people don't know who is living next door to them. They are indifferent to each other. This indifference toward the others is one of the causes which bring about a juvenile crime.

The second action we can take is to think fully whether today's education in school is good or not. Teachers tend to do nothing but teach their subject to students because the "examination war" is a overheated, but they should pour their energy into educating the juvenile spirit. And education system should be revised to reduce the time of preparing for the entrance examination. After researching, I felt that the mental sickness of children is caused by the serious problems which modern society is confronted with. So we should solve those social problems first to decrease the number of juvenile crimes.

Works Cited

Katei-houkai to kodomotachi(Family's Break-up and Children,my trans.).Tokyo: Seikyu Publication,1993.

Kobe syogakusei satsugai jiken no sinri junseki(The Analysis of the juvenile delinquent in Kobe,my trans.). Tokyo: Kappa Books,1997.

Syonen-hanzai to syonen-hou(Juvenile crimes and the Juvenile law,my trans.). Tokyo: Asahi Bookstore Corporation,1997.

Eliot,Rayton, Kimura,trans.
Oya wo koroshita kodomotachi(Children who killed their parent, my trans.).Tokyo: Soshi Publication,1997.

The city desk of Asahi Shimbun Osaka, Inc.
Kurai mori-Kobe renzoku jido sassyo jiken-(Dark forest-Kobe murder case-,my trans.).Tokyo: The City Desk of Asahi Shimbun Osaka, Inc.,1998.
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