Home Law International Handbook of Juvenile Justice
China has changed dramatically since the beginning of its economic reform in the late 1970s. With an enlarged stratification system (Cao and Dai 2001), juvenile and youth crime, as part of the ever-increasing crime trend, has become a prominent social issue. It is an indicator of the deeper tension within a society that has rapidly modernized certain parts while leaving other parts untouched. Despite the legal and procedural improvement, the juvenile justice system still appears to offer less protection of juvenile rights and few effective programs for rehabilitation (Wong 2004). For example, Chinese laws are largely silent on special needs or treatment of female juvenile offenders. Furthermore, since the Chinese juvenile justice system remains a part of criminal justice system, it is not an independent system, and thus the proceedings of juvenile cases are formal and adversarial (Su 2014; Zhao et al. 2014). Juvenile courts are marginalized and do not have separate funding. Protection of children’s rights remains inseparable with the divide by the urban and rural registration system (Su 2014). Migrant children’s rights are totally ignored in all big cities. The nicety of laws is frequently sacrificed for convenience.
On the positive side, an acknowledgment has been expressed on juvenile protection and juvenile crime prevention. Many local initiatives are being experimented within different locations and some have showed desired effects. In addition, the Chinese government has adopted a total-society approach to delinquency prevention, and Chinese laws prescribe behavior rules not only to guide juvenile behaviors but also to regulate institutional behaviors that are alleged to constitute the nurturing environment for juveniles. The long arm of the government has strengthened the networks to prevent juvenile crime at the same time, however, have disregarded juveniles’ rights in due process. Their comparability with the desires of modernity and in being consistent with prevailing international standards is in question.
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