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Migrant teens more prone to juvenile crimes, prosecutors' survey finds

A 17-year-old teenager was sentenced to six months in prison for ganging up with three juveniles to steal cash, food and other valuables worth more than 5,000 yuan (US$801), Qingpu District People's Court said yesterday.

The convict, named Xiaoqin, was the oldest among the four suspects and the only one who went to jail. The three others, with the youngest aged only 9, were uncharged as they are younger than 16 years old.

Prosecutors said the four had stolen various kinds of items from storekeepers and residents in Zhujiajiao Town in Qingpu from October last year to this January.

None of the offenders are orphans. Instead, they lived with their parents in Shanghai but chose not to go home because they claim to have often quarreled with their parents, who all happened to be migrant workers.

Prosecutors said Xiaoqin's case was not unique in Shanghai.

A survey conducted by the Qingpu District Prosecution Office showed migrant children accounted for up to 60 percent of juvenile criminal suspects in the district in the past three years.

According to the survey, the office accepted a total of 253 juvenile criminal cases between 2009 and 2011. Of the 343 juveniles involved, non-locals accounted for 85.4 percent and 60.6 percent were migrant workers' children. Theft ranked first among major charges of juveniles.

Prosecutors said migrant children are more likely to commit crimes because they have lower education and tend to be impulsive and violent when confronted with problems. They are also prone to follow bad examples when their parents are away or busy with work.

"The growing-up period is a key moment in one's life. Children who are uncared for tend to be less disciplined and this increases the probability of them committing crimes," Xu Yanping, a prosecutor at Qingpu District Prosecution Office said.


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