NEWS

What happens elsewhere

In order to draft a new framework for juvenile crime, international experience has been examined, including successful programs in various countries involving the police and other organizations. One case in point is the system used in Canada, where special emphasis is given to alternative programs that try to make the offenders realize the consequences of their behavior and, above all, to dissuade them from repeating it. These programs range from the provision of counseling for the youth and the family to community service. Volunteer counselors are an important part of the program. In Britain, juvenile offenders who have committed petty offenses are let off with a warning by police the first time, and the family is informed. The police work with local social services and if the offense is more serious, the offender is put under supervision and forced to attend counseling sessions. Just 11 percent of first-time offenders who entered these programs committed another crime within two years. In New Zealand, the family is actively involved in dealing with young offenders, in conjunction with a specialized assistance unit in the police force. Police officers issue an official warning to the offender in the presence of his or her parents. He or she is then told to apologize to the victim or provide community service. Social workers are in continued contact with the offender and his family, while police also monitor progress in the case. Before 1990, when the procedure was instituted, more than 10,000 cases reached the courts every year. Now the number has been reduced to a quarter of that.