Le Nhu Tien, vice chairman of the National Assembly Committee for Culture, Education, Youth and Children, spoke to Viet Nam Plus about the need to take action against crimes committed by juveniles.
Recently, quite a few heinous crimes were committed by juveniles. In your opinion, what are the reasons behind this negative phenomenon?
Rapid technological development, particularly of the internet and online games, are among several factors that have contributed to an increase in juvenile crime.
In addition, traditional relationships at home, school and the workplace are being challenged. For example, many children live in dysfunctional families, have parents who quarrel daily over money problems or have parents who are too busy to make ends meet and do not have time to spend with their children. All of these scenarios can turn juveniles into law offenders.
Meanwhile, when the children are in school, some groups and subcultures tend to use violence as a means of solving interpersonal conflicts. Furthermore, school staff and even teachers sometimes turn a blind eye to fights between students that occur in the school yard or in classrooms.
This is also the case in society. Many adults have set ugly examples for children to follow. Those people tend to seek violence instead of apologising for minor incidents.
All these things have affected the children's way of thinking and encouraged them to copy these behaviours when interacting with their peers and others. Some of them have committed heinous crimes.
The rise in the delinquency rate has become more and more serious. Do you think one of the reasons leading to this problem is that concerned agencies have not strictly carried out their functions?
Yes, it is one of the reasons. One of their functions is to prevent and deter any crimes that the juveniles are likely to commit, particularly serious crimes. One of the measures is to launch a communication campaign to teach children what they can and cannot do.
When they commit a serious crime, law enforcement agencies should take due actions against them. Of course, the sanctions must be in line with Vietnamese laws.
Do you think our current criminal law is appropriate for juveniles?
While talking with voters in some constituencies, they all agreed that we should amend the Criminal Code so that due punishments will be handed down for serious crimes, even when the criminals are juveniles.
I hope that upcoming amendments of the Criminal Code related to serious crimes committed by juveniles will be revised to reflect the voters' wishes.
Do you think Viet Nam should lower the age that juveniles can be charged with crimes?
I think we have to think about it carefully. More recently, in our revised law, the definition of children is those under 18 years old, which was raised from the age of 16. This definition is in line with international law. But the Criminal Law has to be thoroughly studied to see if children under 18 have full capacity to control their behaviours.
In my opinion, children nowadays between the ages of 15 and 16 are quite different from their counterparts in previous generations. As I have already mentioned, societal factors have influenced their behaviours and made them mature earlier. That's why, in addition to protecting their rights, we also have to take firm actions against criminal juveniles. It is also our duty to protect the lives of innocent people. — VNS