With an increasing number of juveniles committing violent crimes, the government is seeking to lower the age of criminal responsibility to 13 by the end of this year.
The Education Ministry announced on Friday a set of measures to prevent juvenile violence after a meeting of ministers presided over by Education Minister Kim Sang-kon.
The measures also include holding public discussions on whether schools should be in charge of resolving lesser cases of school violence, and whether these lesser offenses should be omitted from students’ school records.
In surveillance camera footage, a schoolgirl victim is on her hands and knees as she is kicked in the head by one of four attackers. (Yonhap)
The government will work with legislators to revise the criminal law and the juvenile law to lower the age of criminal responsibility from the current 14 to 13.
Crimes committed by children aged between 10 and 13 saw marked growth, 7.9 percent, in the first half of this year, according to the ministry. Crimes by 13-year-olds increased 14.7 percent.
The ministry said it has decided to redefine a “minor” in the context of holding a young offender accountable, as the mental and physical growth of teenagers has accelerated and the age at which teenagers commit violent crimes has gone down.
The government will also develop crime prevention education programs that can be used by all concerned agencies and implement projects to prevent repeat offenses by juveniles. Rules will be revised to allow private entities to open juvenile detention centers.
The number of probation officers for juveniles will also be increased so that each probation officer will be in charge of 41 juvenile offenders. Currently, each officer is responsible for 119 juvenile offenders.
The government said it would come up with stronger measures against juvenile violence, as incidents of school violence continued even after similar plans were unveiled in December.
School violence causing injuries requiring less than two weeks of medical treatment, and no property damage, will be considered a lesser form of violence.
However, sexual violence and intentional or ongoing offenses around schools will be handled by law enforcement authorities.
By Kim So-hyun (firstname.lastname@example.org