The number of juvenile sex offenders in South Korea rose above 3,000 for the first time in 2016, a ruling party lawmaker said Sunday, raising questions over the efficiency of current preventive and corrective systems.
The country's reported underage sex offenders in 2016 stood at 3,195, up from 2,980 in 2015 and 2,875 in 2014, according to a report from Democratic Party Rep. Baek Hae-ryun, citing the latest statistics from the Justice Ministry.
The number is apparently increasing at an alarming rate this year, with already 1,763 reported during the January-July period.
This trend is in contrast with a substantial decrease in the number of juvenile offenders in other crimes. From 2013 to 2016, the number of underage drug offenders has dropped from 506 to 56 while those involved in theft and physical violence have also decreased considerably.
Experts attribute the rise in juvenile sex crimes to the overall ineffectiveness of the underage justice laws. Critics argue that the current system, centered mostly around probation monitoring and youth detention, is failing to register the notion with students that sexual assault is a grave crime.
"Concerned ministries must work hard to produce programs to prevent juvenile sex offenses, while it is also imperative for corrective authorities to come up with measures, such as establishing special units dedicated to handling juvenile delinquents," Baek said. (Yonhap)