Teen crimes, also known as youth crimes, were always a problem in our society, seen as an incurable disease. And it is getting bigger and more painful. However, it has now come to the point where judges should punish teenagers as strictly as they do adults, breaking the conventional idea that giving lighter punishment would help them. Especially here, in South Korea, when it comes to teen crimes people get very serious since we have very ambiguous and vague laws against those teen crimes. It is always an issue whether teens are getting punished properly or not when young teens commit a crime, but the results were always the same.
In Korea we have a famous saying “ A needle thief becomes a cow thief,” meaning that bad habits start from little things such as stealing a needle and end up stealing something bigger next time. Like the lesson we learn from this saying, young teens who commit crimes should be punished properly and strictly to prevent the next incidents or crimes, otherwise they would commit worse and deeper crimes. In fact, it would be harder to guide adults than young teens. By just seeing the efficiency of time and resources, it is better to guide teen criminals than all adult criminals. The best way for guiding teens is not sending them to psychologists or therapists but just giving the proper punishment, a punishment that is not weakened or lightened by any other conventional laws.
The law shouldn’t differentiate teens and adults. This may sound strange since most people believe that teens struggle to make right decisions due to their inevitable shallow knowledge and life experiences. But the truth is that even at the age of 13, they have enough knowledge and enough life experiences to distinguish between what is wrong and what is right. Furthermore, there is no reason for the existence of the law that differentiates teens and adults; the law would only make the teens relapse into crimes or worse.
In conclusion, teenagers are the next generation, they should be taught and guided properly. It is not the shield but it is the rod that teenagers need the most when they make a mistake. Weak punishment would only make the situation worse for the teens and the society. Proper punishment for people who have an “undecided” future, like a blank paper, would work better than anything else.