September 06, 2017 11:13
The savage beating of a 14-year-old girl by her classmates in the southern port city of Busan has raised calls for tougher punishment of juvenile delinquents. The incident made headlines earlier this week when one of the assailants posted a shocking picture of the bloody victim that went viral on the internet.
Violent crimes by teenagers have increased sharply over the last 10 years, and they are getting more vicious all the time.
According to the Supreme Public Prosecutors Office, the number of crimes committed by teens per 100,000 people rose 36.4 percent over a decade from 540.8 in 2006 and 737.4 in 2015.
Violent crimes like murder, arson, robbery and rape per 100,000 teenagers rose 71.3 percent, while the number of assaults increased 27.1 percent.
Some experts blame increased exposure to ever more violent images and video games. Lee Woong-hyuk at Konkuk University said, "Teens are now increasingly exposed to specific acts of violence or criminal methods by the Internet and computer games. In the case of the assault against the schoolgirl in Busan, the assailants videotaped the beating and posted it on social media to gain the respect of their peers."
Teens are also more likely to become repeat offenders since even violent offenders are usually released due to their young age.
One police officer who handles juvenile crimes, said, "The perpetrators are getting younger and the crimes more vicious." The officer added this is partly because many youngsters are bigger for their age than they used to be.
But Choi Byung-gak at Donga University said punishment is not the answer. "Increasing punishment does not fundamentally lead to a decline in crimes," he said.
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