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  • 기사등록 2021-10-31 14:06:53
  • 수정 2021-10-31 19:46:09
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 Recently, we can often hear the news about teenagers committing serious crimes such as mob violence and sex crimes. The age of teenagers who commit crimes is becoming lower and the method of crime is changing to become more intelligent. That is why teenagers’ crime leads to a lot of serious social problems. It is becoming the case that many people who commit heavy social crimes are underage. Every year, over 600,000 teenagers commit crimes and are arrested, based on the average of the last three years. Even the methods they use to commit crimes have become crueler and more intelligent. In addition, compared to the crimes of adults, the cases are often more serious.


 One incident where a middle school girl was sexually assaulted by a boy of her same age is a big social controversy now. The boy sexually assaulted the girl on the stairs of an apartment rooftop. Then he took off all of her clothes including her underwear. This criminal assault caused considerable shame and fear in the girl. He even took a video at that moment and threatened her, saying he will spread it. The parents of the victim were shocked by the cruel and wicked criminal behavior of the young boy. Sad to say, the victim is seriously afraid that the video the assailant filmed will be spread and she will not be able to attend school. The parents of the victim reached out to the assailant’s parents and waited to receive an apology from them. However, they couldn’t get in contact. Thus, they called the parents of the assailant and received a shameless answer. The assailant’s parents said, “We don’t have to meet with you,” showing an arrogant attitude. Also, they notified the victim’s parents that they already hired a lawyer. They asserted their son won’t get a heavy punishment because he is a minor even though they admitted his crimes. The victim and her parents could not find any sense of guilt or self-reflection from them. The hole in the victim’s heart became bigger by the shameless and ridiculous attitude of the assailant and his parents.


 Proper punishment for teenagers who commit such heinous and brutal crimes aren’t given because of the Juvenile Law. According to this law, a minor aged 10 to 14 who committed a crime is regarded as a minor offender. They are considered not capable of taking criminal responsibility, so they are not subject to criminal punishment. They even receive protection and their crime isn’t recorded. For this reason, more and more teenagers abuse this law. The purpose of the Juvenile Law is to help teenagers to grow healthy by adjusting their circumstances and offering protective disposition to correct their wrong behavior. But contrary to this purpose, lots of teenagers abuse the law and they never feel responsibility for their criminal actions. Since its implementation in 1953, it has never been revised, failing to follow the changing social environment. As the children grew in size, violent crimes such as sexual assault have increased. It is also a reality that the victim’s pain or trauma is not taken into account due to the extenuation of the assailant. It is a major cause of the increasing possibility of a second conviction. In addition,the reality is that the Juvenile Law allows for indulgence for teenagers who commit serious and cruel crimes. These days, based on many loopholes in the Juvenile Law, more and more people are demanding the abolition or supplementation of this system.


 Then why hasn’t the Juvenile Law been abolished? The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, announced by the UN, states that neither capital punishment nor life imprisonment without possibility of release shall be imposed for offenses committed by persons below eighteen years of age. Since Korea is a party that has ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, it is obligated to regularly report its circumstances to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. According to the UN Convention on the Child and the Report on the Juvenile Law of the National Human Rights Commission of the Republic of Korea, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child is urging the Korean government not to lower the age limit of the Juvenile Law to 12. In addition, the minimum age, which was lowered from 12 to 10 with the revision of the Juvenile Act in 2007 is already inconsistent with the proposal of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Some experts say that lowering the age limit of the Juvenile Law cannot be a solution because juvenile crime and adult crime have different characteristics. The reason why juvenile crimes are becoming more violent is not based on individual adolescents, but because of the social and family environment. Therefore, they assert that society should pay attention to improving the environment facing juveniles who have committed a crime, not lowering the age limit of the Juvenile Law.


 If the assailant does not get a proper criminal punishment, the additional pain the victim will suffer doubles. However, considering Korea’s international position and the cause of juvenile crimes, it is not easy to lower the age limit of the Juvenile Law. We hope that an amicable social agreement will be reached as soon as possible to minimize the pain of victims and protect the rights of children.



75th Reporter·HAN SONG HEE·shhan0509@hanmail.net

76th Cub reporter·KIM HYEON A·hangitup@kyonggi.ac.kr


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