The series of juvenile delinquency acts that recently took place in Busan and Gangneung are sparking controversy over the abolition of juvenile law. In the case of the incident that happened in Busan, the cruel assault of a schoolgirl by a group of her peers in September went viral online. People were shocked not only by their brutal acts, but also the part where there was no feeling of guilt to be found among the assailants. It led to almost 200,000 people signing a petition on Cheong Wa Dae's website to abolish the law. However, would it be truly right to abolish the law? Before getting too emotional with the previous extreme cases of juvenile delinquency, shouldn’t we reconsider that this is about handling the very sensitive issue of juveniles?
The advocate of the abolition claims that we should not exempt them from punishment only because they are teenagers. Adding that one of the most effective ways to prevent juvenile delinquency is to punish them severely, the advocate argues that the same degree of punishment as adults should be given for severe crimes. However, let’s go back to 2007, when there was a change in juvenile law. Although the reform lowered the age under which juvenile law was applied, there was not any decrease in the juvenile delinquency rate. Rather, it shows the steady increase of the second offense rate. This consequently implies that imposing heavier sentences is not the solution to everything. Also, it should be taken into consideration that teenagers are vulnerable to external influence. Their life in the prison without getting protected as before may raise them to easily become alike adult criminals. When these teenagers leave prison and return to society, we may have bigger issues to deal with. On top of that, the abolition will label more teenagers as criminals. From an early age, they cannot get away from the title and as a result be excluded from society.
Since the issue got heated and the many people are keeping their eyes on how it will turn out, there is a high chance that the punishment imposed on juveniles at least could ar least be strengthened. It is agreeable that stronger measures should be taken when dealing with cruel juvenile crimes. However what people should also bear in mind is that teenagers are the ones who are more insecure, immature, and accidental. As amending the law is the matter of leveling teenager’s protection in the court, it should be dealt with caution. While public sentiment can rise and fall quickly, the revision of law lasts for a long term. In many ways, we should take a cautious attitude toward the issue. < 저작권자 © 중앙헤럴드 무단전재 및 재배포금지 >