LAST_UPDATESun, 27 May 2018 11am

Young And Certainly Getting Dangerous: The Rise Of Juvenile Criminals

Malaysia has been grappling with the problem of rising crime by kids. Pic: www.openthemagazine.comMalaysia has been grappling with the problem of rising crime by kids. Pic: www.openthemagazine.comCrime: An act committed in violation of law forbidding or commanding it and for which punishment is imposed upon conviction according to the dictionary. It can be the act of theft, rape, murder and many others that exists all around the globe.

Last June, the Prime Minister’s Department stated in Parliament that over 15 crime cases were reported per hour in the average crime index, which means there are 368 cases being reported in a day according to Harian Metro recently.

It’s quite daunting to see how crimes are happening and those are just the numbers in general. 

Not surprisingly, juvenile crime has also increased and according to last year’s statistics from the Royal Malaysian Police in Bukit Aman, 7,816 juvenile cases were recorded, mostly involving school students. 

The statistics also show a 57 percent increase in cases, which saw 1,632 cases among the young criminals compared to 1,042 cases in 2012.

Many cities in developed countries like the UK and US are also grappling with the problem of rising crime by kids. Does this mean that as Malaysia moves toward a developed nation, this unhealthy trend of rising juvenile crimes is set to increase further?

Associate Professor Dr. Mariani Md Nor said that research concerning  the backgrounds, circumstances and attitudes of future offenders had identified thousands of factors that would lead children and youth to become criminally involved in the future. Pic: Kosmo OnlineGood youth gone bad

Looking at the increment, this situation is something that we all must look upon with alarm even though it has been an age-old problem. So what causes a young person to commit crime? 

Associate Professor Dr. Mariani Md Nor from the University of Malaya (UM) said that research concerning  the backgrounds, circumstances and attitudes of future offenders had identified thousands of factors that would lead children and youth to become criminally involved in the future.

“Among the major risk factors for juvenile offenders are pre-natal and peri-natal where early child-bearing increases the risks of undesirable outcomes for the children such as low school attainment, socio-economic status, anti-social behavior, substance abuse involving drugs and alcohols and early sexual activities,” said Mariani.

A individual’s personality can also influence juvenile crime for having characteristics such as impulsiveness, hyperactivity, restlessness and limited ability to focus are linked with low attainment in school and weak capability to foresee the consequences of committing an offence.

“Parental supervision and discipline also contributes to juvenile crime where harsh or erratic parental discipline have been linked to felony and are associated with children’s lack of internal inhibitions against offending,” she added.

For obvious reason, school influences is deemed to play a role.

“It is not clear how far schools have an effect on delinquency, for instance, the lack of attention to bullying or providing too much punishment and too little praise, or whether it is simply that problem children tend to go to high delinquency-rate schools,”  

Mariani said delinquents tend to have delinquent friends. “Whether membership of a delinquent peer group leads to offensive behaviour or they simply incline towards each other’s company. The fall out between them often coincides with ceasing from crime,” 

Having delinquent friends can also lead to gang membership and weapons possession where gang-related crime is the prime problem of juvenile offenders.

“Gang membership is strongly associated with future crime especially at an early age. Juvenile gun possession is a factor that amplifies juvenile crime by making the offence that more likely to result injury or death,” 

The risk factors of substance abuse are not just being arrested for possessing or purchasing drug or alcohol, but also the effect of consuming it on juvenile behavior. Using it can lower a person’s inhibitions, making crime activities easier to commit.

Youth create their own world using these technological tools for good and bad purposes. Pic: create their own world using these technological tools for good and bad purposes. Pic: the increased access to mass media influences a major factor for juvenile crime?

In today’s internet age, the presence of social media and unfiltered online information can become one of the main contributory factors of social problems.

Youth create their own world using these technological tools for good and bad purposes. Peer abuse and pressure can be further amplified through mass media  and teens can be easily manipulated online by unprincipled individuals with their own agenda to influence or ‘brainwash’ teenagers to wrongdoings.

“Take obscene books and violence movies for instances, it can be very dangerous to the young people as once there are exposed to it, there will be lifelong harm when they grow up in the future,” 

“This would suggest to children that violence is a normal way of life and that shooting and cheating are the ways to succeed,” explained Mariani.

While is it impossible to filter and shield our youth from the ever present media influences in their life, it would be better to create a strong foundation of respect for society’s laws within each teenager that can serve as a moral compass to guide them.

Is the rise of juvenile crime at a critical stage in Malaysia?

Malaysia Digest spoke to Malaysia Crime Prevention Foundation vice-chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye about the increase in juveniles involved in crime and social problems.

Malaysia Crime Prevention Foundation (MCPF) was established in 1993 as a Chapter of the Asia Crime Prevention Foundation that are based in Tokyo, Japan and the first to be established outside of the land of the rising Sun.

MCPF’s objectives are to promote awareness of crime in enhancing the effective measures for crime prevention and treatment of the lawbreakers to ensure peace, secure stability and zero-crime level in our nation.

Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said juvenile crime is largely because of the degradation of moral values. Pic: site.yayasan1malaysia.orgTan Sri Lee Lam Thye said juvenile crime is largely because of the degradation of moral values. Pic:“Overall, there is no doubt that there has been an increase in juvenile crime over the years, particularly involving  non-students or school dropouts,”

“This is largely because of the degradation of moral values. Compared to the past, life was much more simpler in the 60s and 70s, but now with the phase of modernization of the Internet era, we can see that it had given a rise to juvenile problem, especially in cyber gambling,” said Lee.

Lee cited that one of the big issues that cause juvenile crime is due to parenting skills.

“Many parents have children, but they do not necessarily have good parenting skills. If they don’t have the skills, then their children won’t obey their parents and most likely would listen to their peers as they understand each other well,” 

“All you need is a bad influence from the negative peers that would spread to the group and lead to committing crime such as robbery, drugs, rape, violence, firearms and even murder cases – which has less number of cases but it is something that exists,” he said.

He added that most cases comes equally from the urban and the rural areas, in which urban areas are considered worst due to the exposure of all kinds of undesirable influences and activities compared in the rural areas.

“Following the crime trend, particularly the states with higher concentration of urban population such as KL, Selangor, Penang and Johor would likely to have more crime problem among juvenile,” said Lee when asked which states have the highest number of juvenile crime.

Is our current juvenile justice system sufficient? 

“I have observed during the course of my work that the respect for law among the young generation is becoming an issue as they are showing less and lesser respect towards the law, which is very unfortunate,”  

“For an example, you see young kids riding a motorbike, they would run over the red light because they see that is what the adults are doing. Tell me frankly, how many motorcyclists today are giving respect for safety first?” he emphasized.

Lee feels that the Government should have a look into instilling respect for law and order. 

“It is hard to just come up to the juvenile and punish them because they are so young. How is it possible to send them to jail? It will only create an uproar in the country!”

When asked about the relevancy of juvenile school today, Lee said that it is still important if there’s a serious measure of crime done by the juvenile. 

“This kind of school or institution is very much important to discipline the ‘hardcore’ criminals so that they won’t be prone to commit crimes in the future,”

Is our current juvenile justice system sufficient? Pic: www.losangelesjuveniledefense.comIs our current juvenile justice system sufficient? Pic: www.losangelesjuveniledefense.comEducating our youth on law and order for our country’s future

Our Government has indeed done a number of programs and policies as counter measures of juvenile crime, but it doesn’t really address the whole problem.

Educational programs about the awareness of criminal influences need to be instilled from the early age such as introducing the topic of juvenile crime, literally talking about who, what, how, why and what are the consequences of these negative behaviors.

“Education is very important by all means. The process of educating the youth to be law abiding must be intensified either through home, school or society,” said Lee on the answer to reduce juvenile crime.

“For instances, if the law enforcer sees a juvenile committing an act that is against the law, the enforcer should go up and educate them about the consequences of committing crime, so that a strong enforcement can be done instead of penalizing them,” said Lee.

He hope that the Government especially the Ministry of Family Development would move towards the community level and get parents involved in knowing their roles and responsibilities as parents.

Educational parenting skill courses can be introduced since there has been a lot of marriages between young adult and also a lesser parental role in children’s lives, with most parents nowadays depending a lot on nannies, maids and daycare centers.

“Our country has made very good progress in economy, science and technology but the corresponding increase in social ills needs to be addressed strongly in order to have a balanced development of all factors in our country,” he said.

Modern youth are much more revolutionary and independent than the older generation. Society needs to play an active role alongside other parties to prevent juvenile crime, if not, who else will the next generation of youth look upon?



- mD