Addressing Juvenile Delinquency

Addressing Juvenile DelinquencyAddressing Juvenile Delinquency

The average age in committing a crime is an index to understand the seriousness of social ills in a community, the Minister of Cooperatives, Labor and Social Welfare Ali Rabiee said during a recent visit to the Tehran Province Juvenile Detention Center.

The lower the average age, the graver should the concern be for a community since those committing crimes at a young age can cause more social harm if such aberrations are left unaddressed.

“At the same time, as the youth can be influenced in a positive way, the authorities should pay special attention to developing programs to bring juvenile offenders back on track.”

Currently, there are 108 youngsters under the age of 18 at the center including 18 Afghans; and 28%, 18% and 11% are sentenced for theft, assault and battery, and drug-related offences, respectively. “The figure was 350 in the year 2010,” IRNA quoted him as saying.

Other crimes committed by the juveniles are driving without license, running away from home, and rape.

“Currently, training in nine different technical vocations is given to the inmates. They also get psychiatric consultation services through correctional treatment specialists. This includes interpersonal skills training, individual counseling and behavioral programs.”

However, majors such as IT should be added to the center’s educational programs “so the ministry can create better jobs for them after they return to normal life.” He emphasized the need for continuous monitoring and care after a juvenile’s transition to family life after prison to ensure that they don’t regress to their old ways.

“Following an agreement reached with the Tehran prosecutor, low-interest loans are being considered for those who hire repentant juvenile offenders.”

  IDCH Data

According to figures released by the Iran Drug Control Headquarters, the average age of first use of illegal drugs has decreased to 15 in the country and therefore preventive measures like education against drug abuse should start early.

Further, based on figures released by Tehran’s Special Court for Theft, the average age of petty thieves is between 25 and 30. But the age is far lower for extortionists and bag-snatchers.

Timely intervention can play an important role in treatment of serious juvenile offenders, who otherwise, have the potential to become dangerous criminals in the future.

Rabiee also pointed to the issue of runaway juveniles and said, “A study of 50 runaway girls in 2011 indicated that the main reason why they leave home is not ‘strict parents’ but parents’ addiction or aggressive behavior, which impacts their attitude to life.”

The detention center on 40,000 sq m is located in northwestern Tehran and has a center for psychological services, health center, vocational workshops, library, and gym.

Annually, the center admits more than 2,600 juveniles on average, of whom, 17% are female and 83% are male offenders. They are housed in separate buildings.