Experts point to system’s shortcomings as juvenile crime rises

Experts point to system’s shortcomings as juvenile crime rises

A recent spike in juvenile crime and delinquency has shone a spotlight on the shortcomings of the system dealing with troubled youngsters.

“The child that ends up here as an aggressor has usually been a victim in the past,” Hara Galanou, a lawyer at the Athens Juvenile Probation Service, tells Kathimerini.

Last year, the service, with a staff of just 17 – including two administrators and a secretary – dealt with 925 new cases and a backlog of 1,097 from previous years. The probation officers have also noted a change for the worse in the types of crimes youngsters are becoming involved in, including the use of weapons and as members of gangs.

“In the past, muggings would be committed with the use of physical force; now knives are getting involved,” says Sotiris Efstratiadis, a psychologist at the service. In 2023, moreover, 72 suspects were referred to the Athens Juvenile Court on gang membership charges, against 65 in 2022 and just 21 in 2019.

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