Education key to keeping children away from crime

PETALING JAYA: The Prisons Department can work with educational institutions to not only ensure the rehabilitation of children there, but also equip them with a well-rounded academic foundation.

The department’s director-general said a multi-pronged strategy was needed – with education as its cornerstone – to give the children the skills needed for their future integration into society.

“We view juvenile incarceration as an opportunity for intervention, growth, and reform.

“Rather than punitive measures, we focus on comprehensive rehabilitation strategies to ensure a child’s development,” said Datuk Nordin Muhamad.

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“Quality education, mental health services, and community engagement programmes contribute to a positive developmental environment.”

The vocational training and skill development programmes provided will also allow these children to become useful members of society upon their release, he added.

Nordin said mental health and psycho-social support should also be integrated into the rehabilitation framework.

This was because many juvenile offenders have experienced trauma or face mental health challenges.

To overcome these, they need counselling services, therapeutic activities, and access to mental health professionals.

“By addressing the root causes of their problems, we can break the cycle of disadvantage and help them build a brighter future,” he told The Star.

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Asked how these children end up in the prison system, Nordin said many of them faced challenges within the educational system, including academic difficulties and limited access to quality education.

Peer influence, especially in communities facing high crime rates, was another reason.

Economic disparities, adverse family environments, educational challenges, peer influence, systemic inequalities and cognitive ability could all lead these children to crime.

He suggested that community and social services be made available to them.

These include strategies encompassing anti-bullying initiatives and character education.

Nordin added that positive interactions between law enforcement and communities, alongside media literacy programmes, would also help cultivate trust and critical thinking skills among the young.

“Every child, regardless of background or past mistakes, has the potential to learn, grow, and contribute positively to society,” he said.

“By addressing the root causes of the problem and providing meaningful opportunities for education and rehabilitation, we can break the cycle of disadvantage and help them build a brighter future.”

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