How parents can help problem kids
WATCH what your children are watching.
Too much violence on TV and in video and computer games could change their behaviour.
Ms Annie Lee, director of the Subordinate Court's Family and Juvenile Justice Centre, has blamed over-exposure to violent TV shows and video or computer games for the increase in violent crimes among juveniles.
She said many young offenders, especially boys, were keen on such games that desensitise them towards violent crimes, and cut them off from reality.
She said: 'Many of the games teach youngsters that it is all right to fight the other party. The games also show a lot of anti-social behaviour.'
A Subordinate Courts study published recently showed more young criminals are now committing robbery and snatch theft.
Nearly one in five arrests in such cases in the last two years involved someone under 21. Last year, 4,716 people under 21 were arrested, slightly lower than the 4,918 in 2003.
Almost half those arrested were below 16, and about 80 per cent of them were students aged 14 to 15.
The study published showed that the top five juvenile and youth arrest offences in 2002-2003 were theft, VCD offences, rioting, shoplifting and robbery.
Ms Lee said some juvenile problems were linked to conditions like hyperactivity or attention disorders.
And family factors played a major role.
She said: 'Many juvenile offenders come from families that are occupied with making money and have little time for bonding with their children. As a result, there is little authority in the family and little supervision.'
Ms Elaine Teong, a psychologist from the centre, said many juvenile offenders were looking for acceptance from peers and often turned to bad role models.
She called the statistics 'a cause for concern' but hoped that changes are possible because there is more awareness now of the influence of the family.
Ms Lee said the centre wanted to get parents more involved in the rehabilitation of young offenders, through family conferences and other projects that focused on family relationships and values.
She said: 'We tell the juveniles that their crimes are not just offences against the laws of the state but against the laws of relationships. With this in mind, we teach the offenders about what their victims went through and, where possible, invite the victim to join the conference.
'This can promote a better understanding and a healing of the relationship between the offender and victim. Putting a face to the victim helps them to think twice about committing a crime again.'
Ms Lee said the centre discusses with parents about rewards, punishment and the setting of reasonable boundaries. But she said parents had to take responsibility for their children's behaviour.
She said: 'Parenting is not easy. It is not just a matter of looking after your child academically but also morally...
'It should not be the sole responsibility of the state but of the parents too.'
Source: The New Paper