Judges use micro blogs to interact with juveniles

Updated: 2012-09-01 08:02

By Cao Yin in Zhengzhou (China Daily)

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Teenagers surf Internet to explore novel things and understand society.

The Internet has turned out to be a popular way for many courts in China to prevent juvenile crime and communicate with young offenders, judges said at a national courts conference on Friday.

Many children and teenagers use the rapidly growing Internet to understand society and explore novel things, but it has also become a breeding ground for juvenile crimes, judges agreed.

Zhu Miao, director of the juvenile department of Shanghai High People's Court, told China Daily that it is imperative for courts to use the Internet to communicate with youth because more traditional ways, such as speeches and books, cannot get their attention.

"The Internet attracts teenagers, but it's hard for them to distinguish healthy information from the unhealthy," Zhu said.

"Courts, in their justice role, must gain an online foothold to extend legal education and guide young people to make the right choice when they face a fork in the road," she said.

Some grassroots courts in Shanghai have opened micro blogs to interact with students.

"Xiaoyuan Tianping", or "Campus Balance", a micro blog run by the Putuo district court on Sina Weibo, China's largest Twitter-like service provider, is trying to educate students by organizing mock courts. It provides information on juvenile offenders without using their real names. Judges in a moot court explain 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.

Photos and videos of the moot courts are published on the micro blog for interaction with more people, she said.

Meanwhile, judges in Youxi county court in Fujian province built a judicial website to talk with youngsters online.

The website, which is the first online stage for prevention of juvenile crime across the country, was established in 2003.

Liu Youshui, a judge at the county court who created the website, said it shares with netizens typical juvenile crime cases and judicial interpretations from China and Western countries. Netizens can also leave messages for judges online.

"I update the website at about 6 am 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," Liu said.

He also made public his account on QQ, an instant-messaging tool, and gave parents, teachers and students suggestions, such as how to deal with Internet addiction and protect themselves in emergencies.

Several psychologists have joined the legal group to communicate with youngsters online. And more university students are expected to join the team as volunteers.

However, Cao Xuecheng, secretary-general of the Chinese Society for Juvenile Delinquency Prevention Research, the only NGO in the country that specializes in helping young offenders, suggested legal authorities be more careful about publishing juvenile information to protect the offenders' privacy.