The vast majority of juvenile offenders reported to the Juvenile Justice Unit (JJU) between April 1 and June 30 this year do not attend school, according to a report released by the JJU this week.
Of the 22 minors aged 16 to 18 referred to the unit in the three-month period, 95 percent had dropped out of school at the eighth or ninth grades while most do not live with their parents.
“It is possible that the children living under the care of other guardians for the purpose of studies or other reasons and not living with their parents could be a reason leading them to commit crimes,” the report notes.
It adds that the most children prone to delinquency belonged to gangs and were deprived of access to education and recreation facilities suitable to their age.
While the most common offences by juveniles include violent assault, drug abuse and theft, two of the 22 juveniles offenders were involved in a murder case.
The majority of arrests were meanwhile made in the capital Male’.
As part of its restorative justice mandate, the JJU isolates juvenile offenders at the Correctional Training Centre in Feydhoo Finolhu for rehabilitation programmes designed to reform delinquents.
The centre was opened on July 26, 2010 with 14 children and accredited educational courses on offer.
Offending children released from the centre are monitored with the help of Family and Children Centres in the atolls, the report notes, but lack of job opportunities remained “a major challenge.”
A draft Juvenile Justice Bill has meanwhile been sent to the Attorney General’s Office to create a legal framework to honour the country’s commitments under international conventions.
The legislation would establish a juvenile justice system separate from the criminal justice system for adults to “provide the special protection and assistance due to children.”
According to the report, a life-skills training and parental skills training programme with UNICEF assistance is due to be launched this year for JJU staff.
“Following [the training programmes], students and parents will be offered training and information,” it reads. “In addition, a feasibility study is to be conducted this year on community based rehabilitation with the help of a foreign consultant.”