SEOUL, Sept. 7 (Korea Bizwire) – The government plans to increase the number of counselors for juvenile delinquents, a Cabinet minister said Thursday, amid a series of high-profile student bullying cases having gripped the country as of late.
“There are talks on the need to strengthen punishments, but the focus of the gender equality and family ministry is how we raise juvenile offenders to become healthy and upright,” Gender Equality Minister Chung Hyun-back told reporters.
Juvenile crimes drew keen public attention recently as video footage went viral of a middle school girl bleeding profusely after being attacked by a group of her friends in the southern port city of Busan. Outrage further escalated as another high school girl was found to have been assaulted by her peers in the eastern seaside city of Gangneung in July.
“We won’t just sit by. We will double the number of ‘street counselors,’” the minister said.
Chung stopped short of sharing her opinion on calls for increased punishments towards juvenile offenders. She promised to refine policies on teen crime and its executions.
“We will discuss the issue with the justice and education ministries, but now is not the time to choose a position,” said the minister.
Lawmakers are pushing for legal revisions to toughen punishments for juvenile crimes which are becoming increasingly more violent but are still subject to relatively light penalties.
At issue is the juvenile act that stipulates a person under the age of 18, who has committed a crime punishable by the death penalty or life imprisonment, shall be given a prison term of up to 15 years.