Key points social workers should know about the revised Law on Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency

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On the 26th of December, 2020, the Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency was revised and passed at the 24th meeting of the Standing Committee of the 13th National People’s Congress of the People’s Republic of China. It will come into effect on the 1st of June.

The newly revised law is set to provide an important legal basis for social workers to participate in juvenile crime prevention. The latest Law on Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency contains 26 articles in six chapters with regulations related to social workers’ engagement in helping prevent youth violence and crime. China Social Worker published an article highlighting the key changes in the 2020 revision of the law and listed some of its specific articles that social workers should know. The concept of “custody and upbringing” is no longer used. The state is to take full responsibility and enlist the participation of social workers in creating specialized education for minors with severely harmful behavior. Moreover, there is particular focus on “prevention first” and “intervention in advance.” China Translate Law detailed the revisions, including the following ones explained.

Key general provisions focus on setting out guidelines for preventing juvenile misconduct. For example, Chapter I Article 2 includes combining education and protection resources to both intervene and prevent harmful and severely harmful conduct. Harmful conduct is defined in Chapter III Article 28 as behavior by minors that is not conducive to physical and psychological growth; severely harmful conducts is defined in Chapter IV Article 38 as behavior regulated by the Criminal Law that seriously endangers society but for which no criminal punishment shall be given due to minors not being old enough for criminal responsibility.

Juvenile harmful behavior includes smoking and alcohol consumption, repeatedly skipping class, running away from home without reason, internet addiction, gambling, participation in cults and feudal superstitions, and consuming content promoting pornography, violence, terrorism, or extremist conduct. Juvenile severely harmful behavior includes engaging in violence, theft, property damage, illegal weapons possession, spreading or participating in pornography, prostitution, or ingesting or distributing illicit drugs.

Article 6 mandates the state establish specialized schools to educate juveniles with severely harmful conduct. Furthermore, social workers and other relevant professions are expected to research and determine implementation of the curriculum and management of such schools. Article 9 tasks the state with supporting and guiding social work service organizations and other social organizations’ participation in efforts related to juvenile crime prevention.

Chapter II deals more specifically with crime prevention mechanisms. For instance, Article 21 calls for education administrative departments to encourage and support schools in hiring social workers to be stationed in schools, as a long-term presence or periodically, to promote ethics, the rule of law, mental health, and prevent and respond to bullying. School curricula shall include crime prevention education, according to Article 17, and Article 23 says education administrative departments will factor in the efficacy of crime prevention education programs for schools’ annual evaluations.

Chapter V Article 52 says public security organs, people’s procuratorates, and people’s courts can arrange for minors released on guarantee with no fixed residence to receive social care. Article 55 calls for community corrections establishments to inform juveniles of mentorship placements. Chapter VI Article 64 focuses on the legal responsibility of social work organizations: “Where relevant social organizations and institutions, as well as their staff, abuse or discriminate against minors receiving care, or where they issue fake social background investigations or psychological testing reports, civil affairs departments, judicial administrations, and other relevant institutions are to sanction the managers or other personnel whom are directly responsible. Where such abuses constitute a violation of public security administration, public security organs will administer sanctions on mangers and personnel.”

The new revisions seek to assist social workers in addressing juvenile delinquency with an emphasis on coordination with relevant departments and clarified responsibilities. As such, Chapter I Article 6 prompts the creation of specialized education guidance committees comprised of personnel from schools, civil affairs and human resources departments, public security offices, judicial administrations, people’s procuratorates, people’s courts, lawyers, and social work organizations.