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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 December 2007, 05:05 GMT
China youth crime 'in rapid rise'

File image of a Chinese woman surfing the internet in an internet cafe
Young people are committing both more crime and new types of crime
Juvenile crime is increasing rapidly in China and becoming a serious problem, Chinese experts have warned.

The number of young offenders had more than doubled in 10 years, officials told a Beijing seminar.

The offenders were getting younger, forming larger gangs and committing a greater variety of crimes, one academic said.

Social change, China's one-child policy and the internet were all partly to blame for the rise, the experts said.

"Crimes committed by youngsters have been causing a growing amount of severe social damage," the China Daily quoted Liu Guiming, deputy secretary-general of the Chinese Society of Juvenile Delinquency Research, as saying.

Young offenders were forming gangs and committing crimes "without specific motives, often without forethought", he said.

These included theft, assault and rape, but also 22 new categories of crime linked to fraud and the internet.

Part of the problem was the breakdown of families caused by migration, Mr Liu said.

In hundreds of thousands of rural families, children are left with elderly relatives or friends while their parents travel to cities in search of work.

Shang Xiuyun, a Beijing judge specialising in juvenile crime, suggested China's one-child policy could also be to blame.

With most families having only one child, the children were under greater pressure than in the past, China Daily quoted the judge as saying.

The number of juvenile criminals had risen from 33,000 in 1998 to an estimated 80,000 in 2007, the experts said.


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