Draft law to protect and rehabilitate youth will be extended to under age 18

04 Sep 2019 < 1 min read


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A law to protect young offenders and vulnerable children up to age 16 is to be amended, with the age limit raised to under-18, in a move to give better care to more young people.

It will also ensure swift and better protection to abused children, help offenders reintegrate into society by erasing their criminal records after they complete their Youth Court orders, as well as shield them from possible harm from being with older offenders in adult prisons.

In presenting the Children and Young Persons (Amendment) Bill for debate in Parliament on 3 September 2019, Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee spelt out some of the positive outcomes in extending the age limit. 

The proposed change in age limit is among four areas of proposed changes to the Children and Young Persons Act. The others include greater focus on addressing parent-child conflict, extending rehabilitation of youth offenders by giving older youngsters probation instead of jail, and training volunteer welfare officers to better support vulnerable children.

Mr Lee said that youths could commit offences due to challenging family circumstances, negative influences or the absence of family support.

With the changes, the Youth Court’s jurisdiction will be expanded to hear cases of youth offenders up to age 18, except for more serious offences.

“Young people who are 16 years and above who commit offences are tried as adults in the State Courts or the Community Court, unless they are diverted away from the criminal justice system. But studies have shown that these young persons may still not have the full cognitive maturity of adults,” Mr Lee explained.

Image: The Straits Times