Juvenile crime has gone down, reasons for straying remain same ({{commentsTotal}})

While the overall number of crimes committed by juveniles has decreased over the past decade, crimes against persons, including incidents of school violence, have increased.
While the overall number of crimes committed by juveniles has decreased over the past decade, crimes against persons, including incidents of school violence, have increased. Source: (Ants Liigus/Pärnu Postimees)

While the number of crimes committed by minors has decreased over the years, factors leading children astray have remained mostly social in nature.

Over the past ten years, the number of juvenile suspects has reduced threefold. While crimes against property were dominant in the past, a growing percentage of crimes perpetrated by minors has been against persons instead. For example, the type of crime that saw the biggest increase in incidents last year was physical abuse.

Kaire Tamm, an advisor at the Analysis Division of the Ministry of Justice’s Criminal Policy Department, said that in ten years, how juvenile risk behavior is dealt with has changed as well.

“Official recorded statistics reflect incidents which make it to the police, meaning which are reported,” explained Tamm. “When it comes to children, we must consider whether we have any infractions for which alternative solutions are found. For example, in the case of school violence, schools can either handle [incidents] themselves or contact the police.”

According to statistics, most recorded infractions were committed by boys, although this was not necessarily the case across all categories of crime.

“If we consider consumption of alcohol, then that is distributed relatively equally between boys and girls — and in recent years even a growing trend among girls,” noted Tamm. The advisor noted that gender distribution of shoplifting cases was nearly equal as well.

Addressing problems at the root

Factors causing juveniles to go astray have been largely social in nature. Minors are influenced by their situations at home and in school, but also by their friends and how they spend their free time.

In recent years, more and more juveniles committing infractions have been directed to social programs, one of which is family therapy dedicated to high-risk children.

According to Tamm, this type of therapy has been taken into use in order to help prevent children from ending up in closed institutions. “In this program, they do not only address the child, but also the entire environment in which the child is growing,” she explained. “They work on the child’s relationship with their parents, their relationship with school, the parents’ own interpersonal relationship — in other words, they try to work on all these factors [in a child’s life] which have caused the child to turn toward crime.”

Judging based on other countries’ experiences, this can be considered a very successful approach. The program is still fairly new in Estonia, but a study should be completed by the end of the year regarding those who have undergone family therapy.

So far, approximately 120 families have been included in the program.

Editor: Editor: Aili Sarapik



Opinion
Easter Monday a public holiday? But you're forgetting productionEaster Monday a public holiday? But you're forgetting production
Estonia’s Easter Monday time loop: Discussing an additional day off

Every year, Estonia reliably asks itself the question whether or not Easter Monday should be made a public holiday. Opinions differ. While one side emphasizes the importance of family time, the other thinks an additional day off would threaten economic growth.

Minister of Social Protection Kaia Iva (IRL).Minister of Social Protection Kaia Iva (IRL).
Samost: Kaia Iva’s charisma could help IRL out of long-term low

In Sunday’s “Samost ja Rumm” radio debate show, editor-in-chief of ERR’s online news, Anvar Samost, and journalist and former politician Hannes Rumm discussed the potential and actual candidates for the chairmanship of the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union (IRL). At the time of the broadcast, Helir-Valdor Seeder had not yet made his intention to run public.