4 Case of reformation/rehabilitation achieved through reestablishment of relationship of mutual trust with adults and restored self-respect

(1) Outline of the case

This case involves a juvenile whose parents divorced when he was very young and who was educated at relatives’ homes, including grandparents’, etc. Upon his father’s marrying again he started to live with his father and stepmother. Due to a sense of having been abandoned for a long time by his parents and hatred toward his stepmother, his family relationships were extremely tense. His problematic behavior, including running away from home and shoplifting, etc., first began while he was an elementary school student and each time he received the reprimand of physical punishment. After entering junior high school he no longer received any reprimands and thus his tendency to be absent from school grew stronger, while his problematic behavior, including going out late at night and inhaling paint-thinners, etc., intensified. He accompanied his delinquent friends to night clubs, etc. late at night and started using drugs. He was referred to a family court as a pre-delinquent and was placed under tentative supervision. However, he never appeared to see the family court probation officer and instead ran away. During this time he brutally beat a delinquent colleague (injury) and then committed robbery causing injury with his delinquent colleagues to obtain amusement expenses. He then received a decision of commitment to a juvenile training school for these acts.

Upon admission to the juvenile training school he repeatedly violated the discipline of the juvenile training school because of his emotional instability and lack of self-control. As he was accepted as he was at interviews with the individually assigned official and also was praised for his effort at an event held at the juvenile training school, his emotional stability and self-respect became restored. Efforts were then made to improve his family relationships through visits, correspondence guidance, and approaching his parents. He also received guidance by problem group of drugs, including paint-thinners, etc., and thereby improved his understanding of drugs and of concrete methods to avoid them.

While he was in the juvenile training school the probation officer interviewed his father and stepmother and commenced making environmental adjustments. His stepmother visited the juvenile training school a number of times to see him, and thus he gradually opened up to his stepmother. He returned to his father and stepmother after being discharged on parole. Based on advice of the volunteer probation officer his stepmother started making him packed lunches and he in turn consulted his stepmother on his romantic and work lives. This resulted in their relationships growing closer. He continued being employed, although occasionally changed jobs, and allocated part of his income to family expense. He led a sound life and received a decision of discharge.

(2) Discussion

He was raised in an unstable child-rearing environment in his infancy. His dispositional problem of internal instability, including a sense of rebelling against his family and unfulfilled desire for affection, etc., was connected with his delinquencies. He tried to achieve a sense of fulfillment that he could not gain at home through momentary pleasure and worked off his sense of discontent through violent acts. This escapism attitude increased his delinquent tendencies.

As background, the problems of emotional instability and a lack of self-control, etc., pointed out when he was admitted to the juvenile training school, were considered to be due to the fact that he was raised in an environment that did not allow him to grow attached to or to trust the adults near him, including his own family. In addition, his experience of being a target of violence in family, along with a lack of self-control, was also considered to be connected with his tendency to act violently against others.

Careful approach to the inner feelings of the juvenile through educational activities in the juvenile training school established a base for the subsequent improvement of his family relationships and infiltration of guidance on the problems of delinquencies.

After being discharged each of his family members made the effort to take on concrete roles within the family, based on advice of the volunteer probation officer. This was an important point in raising his awareness of being a family member and eventually strengthened his family functions.

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

a. Guidance through individual counseling in juvenile training schools

In juvenile training schools an official is assigned to each juvenile and he is also in charge of the regular provision of guidance through counseling. This is implemented as a part of life guidance to identify the problems and feelings of the juvenile and concrete guidance is provided based on the identification. It is also basic guidance to improve their way of viewing things and thinking, relationships with others, and life attitudes in various occasions in the daily life of juvenile training schools. At the same time and with junior juveniles, in particular, it creates an opportunity to closely communicate with the official. Juveniles, who are distrustful of adults, repeatedly experience to talk with someone who seriously listens to them and responds to their feelings, and gradually establish a relationship of mutual trust with the assigned official, and restores trust in adults and society. This can then be a starting point for juveniles to grow capable of reflecting on problems of their own and their family.

A juvenile committed delinquencies as escapism from his poor child-rearing environment and had a strong feeling of being a victim. At the initial interviews he proudly talked about his delinquencies. After receiving guidance through counseling and having the official accept him as he was, he felt that the official understood his painful circumstances. This then enabled him to think about his own problems and his victims, and to earnestly take concrete guidance on delinquency problems and education from the victims’ point of view.

b. Drug abuse prevention education, etc.

Some juvenile training schools implement group work, which introduced the idea of cognitive behavioral therapy, as guidance by problem group (guidance by type of their delinquency) for drug dependent juveniles. This aims not only to draw out superficial words of regret through one-sided guidance but also to enable them to reflect on their past relationships with drugs, face their own problems mutually supporting each other, raise their motivation to recover from drug dependence, and understand concrete methods of preventing repeat drug use through discussions by a small group of juveniles with similar problems. In addition to the officials of juvenile training schools mental health officials of juvenile classification homes can also participate in providing guidance in a continuous manner as experts. In addition, to make juveniles have a realistic image of having recovered, cooperation from self-help groups on recovering from drug dependence, which can be a social resource after being discharged, is also available.

A juvenile did not initially admit his drug dependence but grew capable of doing so through group work, etc. He made up his mind to break away from the dependence and also grew aware of his family problems that he was avoiding through using drugs. In addition to guidance for juveniles, guardians are also provided with support in thereby ensuring better custody and establishment of a better parent-child relationship via the opportunity of visit and correspondence guidance and in thereby resolving family problems that were background to the drug use of the juvenile concerned. Juvenile training schools are trying to solve the overall problems that the juveniles face.

At the stage of probation/parole supervision all probationers/parolees convicted of personal use of stimulants that meet certain conditions are obliged to take part in a stimulants offender treatment program, which combines quick screen drug tests (urine tests or saliva tests) using simple reagents and education courses that mainly aim at enabling them to understand/acquire concrete methods of preventing relapses, by assigning them as special conditions for their supervision. Others (including those who have completed the program) may also utilize the quick screen drug test on a voluntary basis if necessary. A young parolee expressed his opinion that the quick screen drug test was useful in maintaining his will to completely avoid stimulants. He also commented that he used to feel that he was suspected of using stimulants, but his family began trusting him when he showed them the results of the quick screen drug test, which thereby encouraged him.

In addition, to make a local support system available and to make them live a life independent on drugs after completion of their probation/parole supervision, cooperation with medical institutions, health centers, and self-help groups, etc., is also involved at this stage.

c. Social participation activities/social contribution activities within probation/parole supervision

In the treatment involved in probation/parole supervision, juvenile probationers/juvenile training school parolees in particular are encouraged to participate in various social participation activities, including volunteer work at welfare facilities, cleaning parks, and creative activities such as pottery, etc. (See (3) of Subsection 2, Section 5, Chapter 1, Part 3).

Some juveniles who participated in volunteer activities at welfare facilities commented that “I get recognized by the people around me if I work hard. I want to make people happy.” and “I felt that living with people of all kinds together in harmony is important.,” thus participation in these activities is an important opportunity for them to develop a positive self-image and consideration for others. In addition, many of these activities are implemented in cooperation with rehabilitation volunteers, including volunteer probation officers, members of the Women’s Association for Rehabilitation Aid, and members of the BBS associations. Coming in contact with adults that watch over and support the reformation/rehabilitation of juveniles within the community can be an opportunity for juveniles that tended to feel alienated from society to actually sense social ties and raise their motivation to be a social participant.

Furthermore, social contribution activities have been implemented since FY 2011 as part of the treatment involved in probation/parole supervision which also applies to adults in thereby helping them to acquire a sense of self-efficacy and develop moral awareness, and the ability to adapt to society through continued participation in social activities which benefit their local society, including cleaning activities at public places and care assistant activities at welfare facilities.

d. Measures for securing/adjusting environment for return

The environment they return to can have a significant impact on juveniles/young people, and hence correctional institutions and probation offices particularly emphasize protective adjustments and environmental adjustments when they are released. In recent years efforts have been made in promoting the following measures to ensure a good living base and facilitate the reintegration back into society of those without an appropriate guardian/guarantor or place to return to.

In order to achieve the smooth reintegration back into society of juveniles with disabilities, etc., certified social welfare workers and licensed psychiatric social workers placed at penal institutions and juvenile training schools identify their welfare support needs and assist them in welfare applications, etc. to enable them to receive any necessary assistance after their release/discharge. While closely cooperating with measures taken in correctional institutions probation offices also collaborate with community settlement support centers established nationwide by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare in thereby making any needed environmental adjustments in securing places they can return to, and enabling them to receive the necessary welfare services.

In addition, in order to urgently secure places that probationers/parolees who face difficulty in securing appropriate residences, etc. return to, probation offices have been entrusting since FY 2011 to juridical persons for specific non-profit activities, etc. the provision of accommodation and meals and daily visit life support for probationers/parolees, etc., including juvenile training school parolees (urgent residence security/self-sustenance support measures).