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OPINIONThe Juvenile Law
The Chungdae Post | 승인 2017.12.21 14:11|(259호)
Freshman, English Language and English Literature, Nara Park

Agreement

  These days, incidents of violence among teenagers (adolescent violence) have become a serious topic of conversation. Starting with an assault at a girls’ middle school in Busan, which angered many citizens, many violent assault cases such as the ones in Gangneung, Asan, and Incheon have occurred.

  After a series of brutal assaults, it has been suggested that the juvenile law should be abolished. This opinion has already received more than 40% of the public's support. The purpose of this law is to give teenagers who have committed violent assault crimes an opportunity to return to society, and make people think about the possibility that crimes committed by minors may have been committed accidently. The law assumes that the responsibility for juvenile delinquency is basically the responsibility of not only the perpetrators but also the nation, society, and guardians.

  However, the most recent juvenile delinquencies have not been accidental crimes, but premeditated crimes. As the juvenile law is abused, some bad juveniles’ premeditated crimes go punished. Under the current law, children under the age of 14 cannot be punished for penal offenses, and juveniles under the age of 19 can only be sentenced to jail for a term of up to 15 years. These regulations have serious adverse effects on the protection of victims’ human rights. Therefore, it is necessary to strengthen the statutory standards. Juvenile delinquency is becoming more powerful and cruel, but victims who have to be protected by the law are not protected, and the perpetrators are being protected by abusing the law.

  I think it is wrong for the Republic of Korea to protect the human rights of perpetrators more than victims. There is a saying 'Old habits die hard.' Punishing some juveniles' crimes, including minor crimes, can make juveniles realize the fact that crimes result in very big disadvantages, and it can help them develop as normal, ethical people. This is one possible positive aspect that would follow the abolition of the juvenile law. I am embarrassed to see perpetrators punished very lightly due to an abuse of the juvenile law. Some teenagers' tendencies for violence and pranks have gone too far. They are not innocent or immature anymore. I think teenagers who commit crimes and receive reduced penalties due to their ages should be punished appropriately according to the weight of their crimes. Therefore, I think the juvenile law should be abolished as soon as possible.

 

Junior, Applied Biology, Kyungmin Shin

Agreement

  Recently, there have been several school bullying incidents which have caused huge controversy concerning the juvenile justice system. I think the juvenile law should be abolished and that the bullies and assailants should be subject to normal criminal laws.

  Images and voice recordings which have captured the violence unleashed by teenage students are unbelievable. They are too disturbing to watch and hear even though I am not a direct victim. Also, there is something I cannot understand at all. Violent students have been treated leniently because they are subject to the juvenile law. However, the cruelty suffered by victims has not been considered. The degree of abuse unleashed by teens has been high. One girl was punched until her whole face was swollen, and, after that, the perpetrators even dropped some cigarette ash on the victim on purpose. The more time they spent with her, the more ashamed she became. The assailants insulted her and hurt her self-esteem, not to mention physical abuse.

  The thing which really matters concerns the perpetrators’ attitudes. First, when social network services revealed their sins, they were too confident because they were protected by the juvenile justice system. Most netizens asked them to give a sincere apology and take time for self-reflection, but the assailants ignored them and never seemed to be sorry. These attitudes show why we have to abolish the juvenile law.

  Times have changed, and some teens are people in disguise. Despite their young appearances, their ways of thinking and acting are much like those of adults. For the assailants, it may be fun and not a big deal, but the victims, sadly, cannot get over the trauma.

  There is a saying “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” According to this adage, the bullying students should be treated correspondingly. So, to eradicate school bullying and accomplish social justice, the juvenile law should be abolished or changed.

 

Freshman, Veterinary Department of Chungnam University, Jinho Seok

Disagreement 

  Currently, how to punish minors who committed severe crimes is being discussed at great length. This is mainly because of a brutal murder that happened recently. The idea that the teens ought to receive a light punishment for their criminal behaviors primarily arises from their lack of maturity, which is quite reasonable, and for a long time, this has been regarded as a natural and universal point of view. However, there has been opposition to such an idea. The majority of the Korean public is calling for a stronger punishment for teen criminals who committed heinous crimes. I also agree with this opinion.
  There might be a need to increase the severity of punishment for such brutal and inhumane crimes. But, for me, totally abolishing the Juvenile Protection Act is not an acceptable option. First of all, the law covers a variety of areas, and cruel crimes are only a small part of what the law deals with. Of course crime is crime, and there can never be rationalization for it, but what about criminals who do not commit cruel crimes? I think that offenders must have chances for rehabilitation. Minors who have a criminal record will have much difficulty adapting themselves to society. Therefore, giving heavy penalties to such people is not a cure-all.
  Also, it is worth noting that not having laws that protects juvenile criminals (in this case, abolishing laws) will not solve all the problems. There is much more to be considered than what is currently being talked about. Lastly, even if the Juvenile Protection Act is abolished, there will still be court judgments that a lot of people do not agree with since our law is not based on a severe punishment policy.
  After considering all these factors, I just agree with the idea of amending the Juvenile Protection Act, especially the sections concerning inhumanities. More importantly, I think it is time for us to reconsider what main principle our juvenile laws should be based on: one of rigorousness or one of warmth.

 

Freshman, Department of Electronic Engineering, Kiryung Nam

Disagreement

  Recently, the number of heinous crimes committed by juveniles has been rising continuously. The perpetrators of a crime involving the murder of an Incheon schoolchild first baited the child and then killed her in broad daylight. As for the Busan middle-school girl assault incident, senior students unleashed harsh violence upon a younger student for trivial reasons. Due to those recent events, many people signed a Chungwadae petition requesting the abolition of the juvenile law. However, I find no need for this abolition. I think amending the juvenile law is needed.
  First of all, the abolishment of the juvenile law would technically be considered as a violation of the constitution. Korea follows the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. In article 37 of this convention, it says, “No child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Neither capital punishment nor life imprisonment without possibility of release shall be imposed for offences committed by persons below eighteen years of age.” International laws have the same effect as domestic laws. Abolition of the law would contravene not only the convention but other global human rights-related treaties. Furthermore, abolition of the juvenile law would be a violation of the Korean constitution. In this regard, the global community may lay the blame on Korea for suppressing minors’ human rights.
  Clearly, some points of the juvenile law have failed. The original purpose was to steer criminal minors aged 10 to 14 in the right way by rehabilitating and reintegrating them into society. However, young offenders have considered this as an escape. For instance, one of the assailants tried to proceed with her trial fast to avoid a heavy sentence. Besides, the current law does not reflect the reality now. Lowering the age of criminal liability or increasing the severity of penalties are possible solutions.
  In conclusion, it is impossible to prevent every crime committed by underage criminals. Abolishing the juvenile law is virtually impossible. Therefore, the law needs to be revised to make it more ideal.


 

The Chungdae Post  -

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