More efforts from society needed to prevent juvenile delinquency
Published: Mar 19, 2024 09:51 PM
Handcuffs Photo: CFP

Handcuffs Photo: CFP

Recently, the tragic murder of a 13-year-old boy surnamed Wang in Handan, North China's Hebei Province, has sparked public concern about juvenile crime and triggered reflection on what the Chinese society can do to prevent juvenile delinquency.

Three of the victim's classmates were detained over Wang's death. According to Wang's father, the boy was a victim of school bullying, a phenomenon that has become increasingly prominent in China over the years. A study conducted by The China Youth & Children Research Center of over 3,000 underage students in China between 2020 and 2022 shows that 53.5 percent of them said they have been bullied in school, while 20.3 percent would only report the issue to their teachers, school or parents if bullying happened for the second time.

Wang Hongwei, a professor at the Renmin University of China's School of Public Administration and Policy, told the Global Times that the main reason why this incident in Handan has drawn such big attention in China is that it is a case involving school bullying that ended up with the frightful killing of the victim by his classmates, emphasizing the urgent need for strengthening the safety of minors, especially students.

To find the causes of this tragedy, one needs to look deeper into the root of the problem. For some time now, there have been several school bullying cases in China developing into vicious crimes, which should have sounded a serious warning to schools. Yet, some schools didn't take effective measures to stop bullying or manage it. 

Additionally, parents also have the responsibility to improve the education and care for their children. Yang Weidong, a law professor at the Chinese Academy of Governance, said society must work together to prevent school bullying from escalating into criminal cases. "China's Law on the Protection of Minors emphasizes the comprehensive protection of minors, leading to the establishment of various protection systems within families, schools, society, and the judiciary," said Yang.

While people are generally expressing anger over the boy's death and discussing topics such as juvenile delinquency and school bullying, some people in China's cyberspace choose to prioritize clicks and the pursuit of "15 minutes of fame" over conscience, attempting to divert people's discussion away from rationality. As of Tuesday, 2,972 rumors related to the case have been cleared on social media platform Sina Weibo.

What is behind the spreading of such misleading disinformation is a group of opportunists in Chinese cyberspace who want to take advantage of people's concern and sympathy to profit from the tragedy. Their irresponsible fabrication and intentional spreading of falsehoods undermine the environment for the normal discussion of the case by inflaming sensational words and images. Such behavior is illegal and unethical.

Currently, people are waiting for the result of an official investigation on the Handan case. Whether there was a failure of responsibility, and to what extent, on the part of the teachers, schools, and education authorities should be held accountable in this case can only be determined through an official investigation. In any case, this incident is serious enough to awaken the public's attention to the deeper causes of school bullying, such as school mismanagement and mental health problems of minors. "In the end, this will lead to the formation of a more effective prevention and control mechanism for juvenile delinquency," Yang said.

The authorities' handling of the Handan case could have a great exemplary effect on similar cases in the future. This case must be dealt with strictly according to the law, in order to sound a loud enough warning and deter minors who might have criminal impulses or intentions. The case must be dealt with fairly and justly so as to give the victim's family justice. And while waiting for a more detailed official announcement from the authorities, we need to be more patient and stay rational.