A National Police Agency panel said Thursday that the government should establish a new law that would enable police to take juveniles into custody for delinquent behavior.
In its recommendation, the NPA said juveniles should be taken into custody for engaging in acts such as drinking alcohol, smoking, being out late at night in red-light districts or running away from home, even if no crime has been committed.
Panel members claimed such acts are considered precursors to crime.
The NPA panel emphasized the need for new laws that empower police and voluntary youth guidance officers, giving them the legal right to forcibly take juveniles into custody if they are seen engaging in such acts.
An NPA survey released the same day found that 29.2 percent of the 144,404 juveniles involved in crimes last year had previously been taken into custody for delinquent behavior, while 53.8 percent of the 2,212 juveniles involved in serious crimes — including murder, robbery and rape — already had such records.
The recommendation also says the new law should better clarify the issue of parental responsibility for juvenile crime.
For juveniles who are not in the custody of their parents, community members and relevant organizations should be responsible under the new laws for taking the minimum necessary measures to end the youths’ delinquent activities and protect them, the panel said.
The law should also clearly define juvenile delinquency and the procedures for taking juvenile delinquents into custody. This would allow police and youth guidance officers to take youths into custody or confiscate items such as cigarettes, cigarette lighters and knives.
There is currently no legal basis for taking runaways into protective custody, and this can only be done if the juvenile in question consents.
Youths admonished for delinquent behavior by youth guidance officers have in many cases either ignored the officers or did not take their advice seriously, according to a national association of juvenile guidance officers.