Care could keep migrants out of prison

0 CommentsPrint E-mail China Daily, November 11, 2010
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Young migrant workers are in dire need of psychological care to reduce their involvement in crime, a study of criminal cases in Yangzhou, East China's Jiangsu province showed.

"Young migrant workers are very much underprivileged compared to their peers with urban household registration," said Wu Yuhong, professor with Shanghai University of Political Science and Law.

"When they studied at school the education they received was not as good, when they tried to find a job they received fewer opportunities, when they get sick they have less money to afford medical treatment."

About 34 percent of the 1,514 criminal cases in 2008 and 32 percent of the 1,556 criminal cases in 2009 were committed by migrant workers between 16 and 30 years of age, according to the study.

The study looked into data from cases over the past few years from the Yangzhou Intermediate People's Court, the Yangtze Evening News reported.

A desire to have what their urban peers have and unequal access to opportunities are major incentives for young migrant workers to commit crimes, Wu said.

Many of the cases involved theft, fighting, rape, extortion and illegal detention, the study said.

Shi Yongcai, head of the Yangzhou Intermediate People's Court, said more psychological care for young migrant workers would reduce crime, according to the Yangtze Evening News.

There are about 100 million young migrant workers aged between 16 to 30, many of whom suffer from low income, lack of education and professional training, limited access to social welfare due to limitations of the household registration system, inability to own a residence in the cities where they work and impaired labor rights, according to a report released by the All-China Federation of Trade Unions in June.

"Discrimination and intolerance by local people frustrated me a lot in my first couple of years working in Shanghai," said Wang Hui, a migrant worker who served as a nanny for a local family.

"I heard some stories about my fellow villagers who got involved in crime and ended up in prison, and I wasn't surprised," Wang said. "For young people who have dreams to realize and goals to fulfill, it's really hard to accept the fact that life is so unfair to us."

To reduce the crime rate of migrant workers, a fair social security system must be established, Wu said.

Many young migrant workers can only get heavy physical and low-skilled jobs with low pay, which contrasts sharply with the expectations they had before they came to the city, Wu said.

Compared to their parents, young migrant workers are less willing to work hard but expect a joyous lifestyle that is unobtainable with their daily work. So they more easily resort to crime, especially when they see their urban peers enjoying those things, Wu said.

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