Mexico sees increase in number of minor offenders

Experts from UNAM suggest sanctions should be applied to the parents of minor offenders

Mexico sees increase in number of minor offenders
It has become extremely easy to obtain firearms in the black market and offenders usually carry a pistol or a toy replica - Photo: File photo/EFE
English 10/11/2018 11:37 David Fuentes Mexico City Actualizada 11:40
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The situation of minor offenders and people who start a criminal career early in their lives is rooted in their families, since many of them are raised in neighborhoods and quarters with a high level of delinquency, according to sociologists and criminologists.

Specialists claim that the problem could become more pressing in the following years if it is not addressed properly by authorities, families, and society as a whole.

In this vein, they also explained that sending them all to penitentiary centers was not a feasible solution, since the prison environment was likely to turn them into true criminals. Nonetheless, experts claimed that the parents of these individuals should be subject to sanctions and young offenders should be drawn away from their family environment in order to prevent them from becoming a problem for the rest of the citizens.

Statistics on the arrest of minors issued by the Ministry of Public Security (SSP) revealed that, until 2016, most crimes committed by minors occurred in delegations south of Mexico City, mainly Iztapalapa, Tláhuac, and Xochimilco. In more recent years, however, there have been arrests of minor ofenders in other delegations such as Miguel Hidalgo, Benito Juárez, Cuauhtémoc, Venustiano Carranza, and Gustavo A. Madero.

Furthermore, it has become extremely easy to obtain firearms in the black market and offenders usually carry a pistol or a toy replica, which shows an increase in theft with violence.

“We have cases such as that of the famous “Diablitos” (Little Devils), several crimes registered in Tepito, where it is known, for instance, that the current leaders of the Tepito Union criminal gang started their criminal career at a very young age, and now we also have the “Malankis” [in the Miguel Hidalgo neighborhood]. All these cases have shown a constant: These minors are usually closely related to convicts or ex-convicts.

“This is the heart of the matter. If the law is lenient towards them, it only makes the problem worse. Even more concerning, the problem has spread to social media. Young people are proud to be arrested and put in penitentiary centers because they feel like it gives them status. They do not receive proper punishment and find it easy to keep escalating in their criminal career,” commented Roberto Raygadas, a sociologist from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) who specializes in criminogenic families.

For her part, Carmen Rodríguez, a psychologist from the Autonomous Metropolitan University (UAM), warned that recent actions undertaken by Mexico City’s delegations for the reconstruction of the social fabric have proven to be ineffective. The specialists stressed that immediate actions with short term goals should be implemented to fight delinquency among minors, adding that deprivation of liberty is not a proper punishment for them, which is why it has a counterproductive effect.

“Young offenders must understand that there are consequences to committing a crime. The paternalistic strategy does not work. Nowadays, young people find liberty in their cellphones; to them, it doesn’t matter if they are locked away; as long as they have a smartphone in their hands, imprisonment is irrelevant to them. The government needs to work towards a true reinsertion,” she concluded.


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