Statement on juvenile delinquency

Statement on juvenile delinquency

Jun 13, 2023, 5:15:53 AM UTC
After discussions in the media about measures on youth crime in response to another violent video, Volt calls for more prevention.
Child hiding his face behind his hands and outstretched fingers pointing at him.

After another video of bullying and violence among secondary school students circulated through the media, more and more voices were raised that something must be done about youth crime. Volt again watches in horror as many local parties as well as public opinions jump to conclusions and call for repressive measures. We are critical of this and call for a different approach.

Causal research

The most important thing in our eyes is to investigate the causes. Where does the problem come from and is it as acute as it seems?

On the one hand, it should be noted that Luxembourg is the only country in the EU that does not yet make a distinction between the protection of minors and juvenile criminal law, due to a reform that has been pending for 30 years and has still not been completed. Unlike our direct neighbours, there are no criminological and empirical studies on the functioning of juvenile criminal law. The judicial statistics do not express the same thing, as they do not conduct any causal research.

On the other hand, everyone must be careful not to fall prey to the availability bias, because today, more than ever, such cases are reported in the media - this also influences our perception.

As far as the hard facts are concerned, in recent years juvenile crime has actually remained rather constant, although according to the police there has been an increase in the more serious cases among juveniles. This is certainly alarming to some extent. What is the reason that young people seem more aggressive nowadays, seem to be more prone to physical violence and that bullying has also greatly increased?

Volt does not think it is possible to formulate a simple answer to this. In our opinion, the reasons are complex:

  1. The general social status of our country is declining, there are not enough social measures, housing problems and unemployment are increasing. Children are the first to experience this from their parents and this leads to frustration, anger and possibly aggression in both.
  2. Many parents are not sufficiently informed about current problems and risks of young people (drugs, social media, sexual offences, etc.), so that they cannot support their children sufficiently.
  3. Schools, which are often seen as the main responsible parties, do not have the necessary financial and human resources to intervene meaningfully when young people become conspicuous.
  4. Both the judiciary and the educational institutions no longer have many means at their disposal to punish young people, as they are protected by the Youth Act (which is good in principle!).
  5. Facilities like the Centre socio-éducatif de l'Etat in Dreiborn are hopelessly overcrowded.
  6. Social media and modern technology now more than ever enable the spread of violence by filming and sharing acts of violence. As a result, bullying is also accelerating and spreading much more rapidly than ever before in human history, and the bystander effect ensures that even more people become accomplices in a very short time as a result of not providing help.

Prevention instead of repression – including admonishing punishments

Volt focuses on prevention for juvenile crime as well as for crime in general (see our electoral programme, point 5.2 Measures to increase security: prevention over reaction).

We think that especially for juvenile crime with offenders who are not yet criminally liable (i.e., younger than 16), the following measures would help:

  1. Parents need to be educated even more. Special training courses (covering the subject of drugs, violence, crime etc. and held by psychologists and police officers) for parents, but with a special child allowance, which is available as an incentive, of sorts, for attending, must be promoted. (see electoral programme, point 5.2.2)
  2. Young people must also be better educated and monitored, with the help of significantly more socio-psychological staff within schools. (see electoral programme, item 3.2.4 More extracurricular personal at school)
  3. Significantly more facilities such as the Centre socio-éducatif de l'Etat in Dreiborn must be set up.
  4. Young people must be able to be admonished, even with seemingly drastic punishments. These should discipline young people, but also serve as a reminder for others. Punishments can mean a temporary removal from everyday school lessons (which must then be linked to a stay in a socio-educational institution), expulsion from school can also have a deterrent effect and, finally, deprivation of liberty with the help of electronic ankle bracelets is a possible, drastic measure that should be considered.

All punishments, however, must have as their primary goal the deterrence and admonition of other young people (prevention), but in this respect they must be consistently enforced, but naturally also protect the rights of children and adolescents. Since juveniles are not of age, society also denies them a certain ability to be punished - for this reason Volt warns against hasty, very repressive measures that are not appropriate for children of their age.