At a national courts conference in China recently, judges reported that internet blogs turn out to be a great asset when it comes to preventing juvenile crime and communicating with young deviants. Most judges in attendance agreed that although the internet is a great tool that many youngsters use to “understand society and explore novel things,” it also has increased the number of juvenile crimes occurring in China.
The director of the juvenile department of Shanghai High People’s Court, Zhu Miao, stated that “The Internet attracts teenagers, but it’s hard for them to distinguish healthy information from the unhealthy.” This inability to decide right from wrong is why it is important for the courts to use the internet to connect with youth. Speeches and books bore them, and don’t produce the desired effect. The Chinese court judges involved in the project are hoping that this blog will help children “make the right choice when they face a fork in the road.”
Various other courts in Shanghai are following Miao and have started micro blogs to interact with students. One micro blog run by the Putuo district court on Sina Weibo (China’s equivalent of Twitter) is attempting to educate students by creating mock courts. These “courts” provide information on juvenile criminals without using their real names. Judges describe to the students “why a case is tried that way and what they should pay attention to if they are ever in such a situation.” Liu Youshui, a judge at the county court who created the website, says that he updates the site “… every day, aiming to attract more young people. They like hunting for novelty, so I must understand what they want and keep the online space fresh.”
The site has caused some controversy, however. Cao Xuecheng, the secretary-general of the Chinese Society for Juvenile Delinquency Prevention Research, suggested that legal authorities must be careful not to violate the privacy of juvenile offenders.