2 Case of reformation/rehabilitation achieved through strengthened family functions

(1) Outline of the case

A juvenile that was rather spoiled in a relatively wealthy family environment began to rebel against his parents as he disliked their interventions and restrictions and started insisting upon his own desires after entering junior high school. He also admired delinquent students who acted freely and started to commit problematic acts, including shoplifting and driving without a license, etc. He soon lost all motivation to study and by the time he gave up going to senior high school, his life became more and more unstable. After graduating from junior high school he did not work and continued being dependent on his parents, while also repeating driving without a license and theft, etc. He received the disposition of probation multiple times at a number of hearings held in family courts, but continued to live a similar life without regret. He then left his parents to live alone and his association with delinquent friends became more and more developed. One day he went out with his friends and on his way back home borrowed a motorbike, simply thinking that it would be no problem as long as he was not caught, but he was cleared for driving without a license and received a decision of commitment to a middle juvenile training school.

Initially after the admission he did now show any positive attitude toward anything, but he gradually acquired a sense of responsibility through group life, role activities (assigning certain roles to juveniles within a group to help them learn the importance of responsibilities and cooperation), and reflection (letting juveniles think quietly about their own problems by themselves), etc., upon which he became capable of acting independently. In addition, he had been feeling desperate, thinking that his father had given up on him, but he grew aware of his mistake, seeing his parents' tears at the hearing and through repeated visits and communication, and started to look back on his past relationships. This then enabled him and his parents to share their feelings.

He set the future goal of acquiring a license to engage in a job that he was interested in. He therefore went to a support school after being discharged with the aim of passing senior high school graduate equivalency examination and lived a study-centered life. Furthermore, and in accordance with the guidance provided in juvenile training school and the advice of his volunteer probation officer, he and his parents both learned to keep an appropriate distance from each other as independent individual without being overly interfering and becoming dependent, and started to enjoy going out together on weekends. This resulted in his entire life

becoming more stable and his parole supervision became no longer necessary and was terminated by a decision to discharge him from parole supervision.

(2) Discussion

This case involves a juvenile that lived a life dependent on his parents and acted selfishly, prioritizing his own desires. As he continued to live life without any self-restraint he lost his life framework, indulged in an idle pleasure-seeking life, and repeated delinquencies. He did not realize that he was responsible for his own reality, including not having entered senior high school and being unable to obtain driver’s license for a quite long period due to the administrative disposition for having driven without a license, etc., which were because of his own acts, and he shifted the responsibility to others and maintained his own dependent way of thinking. This then blunted his moral awareness, led him to repeat delinquencies, making a vicious circle. His parents tended to accept his dependence and did not provide him with any particular guidance, etc. This actually gave him the impression of having been abandoned by his parents and further promoted his desperate attitude.

In juvenile training school the focus was placed on raising his sense of responsibility through group life and on restoring/improving family relationships. The juvenile and his parents were physically separated as a result of admission to a juvenile training school and this enabled them to reflect upon their relationships with each other and feelings toward the juvenile/parents through visits and communication, and the presence of others, namely the officials of the juvenile training school and the volunteer probation officer, who were trusted by the juvenile and his parents and provided them with support to reestablish family relationships, was effective in restoring their original family functionality.

In addition, with the concrete goal after being discharged on parole of passing senior high school graduate equivalency examination with his own aptitude, etc. he cleared the way via his own efforts with a sense of fulfillment and made more career options available. This made his entire life stable.

(3) Measures for relevant problem fields in correction/rehabilitation

a. Communication/visits at juvenile training school

Adjustment guidance for protection is implemented in juvenile training schools utilizing the opportunity of communication/visits, with accommodation visits and special visits also being available if necessary. An accommodation visit involves a juvenile and his guardians staying in a family dormitory (an independent building with accommodation) within the premises of the juvenile training school and intensively talking about the causes of delinquencies, family, friend relationships, victims, life in juvenile training school, current worries, and issues concerning future courses, etc. in an at-home atmosphere. A three-party interview with the official can also be conducted if necessary. After the accommodation visit an official interviews the juvenile, requests him to submit a report, and also works with his parents as required in thereby making the visit more effective through that systematic and constant adjustment guidance. A special visit is a scheduled visit conducted as required for longer hours than the ordinary visit but without accommodation.

A juvenile prepared a meal with his mother in the kitchen on an accommodation visit and talked about his life in juvenile training school and future course. After the visit he expressed his opinion that he was thankful that he could do an ordinary everyday thing and felt that his mother he used to hate was actually really worried about him.

b. Measures to improve parent-child relationships in probation/parole supervision

Many juveniles/young people placed under probation/parole supervision live with their families. They generally live with mental support provided by their families, but in some cases they have serious conflicts with family members. These cases make their feelings and living bases unstable and tend to lead to violations of the conditions for their probation/parole supervision, including changing residence without permission, etc., and thereby interfering with their reformation/rehabilitation.

Probation officers and volunteer probation officers make the effort to identify the status of family relationships through interviewing probationers/parolees or their guardians, etc., and then providing them with necessary guidance/advice. In addition to that treatment, and according to the needs of the family, probation officers, halfway house officials, and volunteer probation officers work with probationers/parolees and their guardians, etc. to help them sort out their own feelings and consider each other's feelings through occasional interviews after having provided them with the opportunity to calmly reflect on their relationships with each other, including accommodation of the probationers/parolees to a halfway house.

Juveniles and their families are occasionally invited to participate in social participation activities and family camps held in halfway houses as an opportunity to reflect on their relationship with each other through providing juvenile and their parents with the occasion to work together in a setting other than at home.

c. Measures to strengthen guardians’ ability of custody (measures for guardians)

Guardians play significant roles in the reformation/rehabilitation of juveniles, and therefore making guardians recognize their responsibility for the custody of juveniles is important in thereby making their treatment more effective. Because of this point of view parents and child gatherings, guardians meetings, and other events are implemented in juvenile training schools. Parent and child gatherings take place in a variety of forms, including lunch meetings, participation-type visits to a class in which juvenile and their parents can participate together in correctional education activities, recreation, and meetings to exchange opinions, etc. Guardian meetings can incorporate such events as vocational lectures by public employment security office staff members, lectures by victims, and lectures on drugs by doctors, etc. These activities aim to solve family problems and strengthen guardians’ abilities to provide the appropriate custody by making juveniles and their parents share their knowledge and acquire the attitude of working together to solve their problems.

Some juvenile training schools implement parent-child piggyback-ride relays at parents and child gatherings, in which juveniles and their parents reconfirm each other’s presence by taking the role of the horse in turn. Through these activities juveniles get to recognize that “parents are not the people to rebel against but instead to protect" and the parents that their “child is growing up to be an independent adult and problems should be shared and discussed with him,” thus providing them both with the opportunity to improve their family relationships through discussing common experiences in a manner that extends over the framework of their traditional way of thinking.

If the behavior of guardians is deemed to be an obstruction to the reformation/rehabilitation of juveniles then probation officers will provide guidance/advice on how to correct that behavior. In addition to this, guardian meetings, at which guardians can freely discuss the worries and anxiety they have are held as a measure in thereby improving guardians’ motivation and ability to provide the appropriate custody. As an example of this, programs on learning practical ways to communicate with children are held with certified clinical psychologists and experts on parent-child communication, etc. as the instructors. A mother who participated in this program commented, “I was not really listening to the feelings of my child. I felt that I had to change little by little.” In addition, lectures for the guardians of juveniles with drug problems are held in cooperation with mental health and welfare centers and self-help groups, etc. in thereby providing concrete information on local consultation contact points and on recovering from drug dependence, etc.