Officials say new disciplinary measures will help address the problem of juvenile delinquency.
FOLLOWING a directive issued last month by Prime Minister Hun Sen, the government has launched a crackdown on juvenile delinquency that will target "spoiled youngsters" in a bid to maintain social order, an Interior Ministry official said Sunday.
According to a list of disciplinary measures to be posted in towns across the country, young people will be more closely monitored and could face more serious charges if caught engaging in crimes.
"We have just begun to gradually implement the disciplinary measures after the prime minister called for action against spoiled youngsters,"
Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak told the Post Sunday, referring to a directive on June 24 ordering ministries and law enforcement officials to crack down on "gangster activity".
'Big brothers' disciplined
"We see that nowadays young people's acts are sometimes entangled with crime and the destruction of culture and tradition," Khieu Sopheak said.
"If we do not have any measures to cope with [young people], our society will definitely become chaotic, and children of the next generation will imitate such a lack of discipline."
Khieu Sopheak said most of the young people that the ministry has picked up so far were "big brothers" associated with criminal gangs.
"In the past, we have gathered thousands of young people who were acting immorally and causing trouble to society. Having gone through rehabilitation, some young people are sent back to their parents.... However, in some serious cases, they are sent to the court," he said.
The new disciplinary measures are being tested in pilot programmes in the country's more densely populated areas, though Khieu Sopheak said it would likely be taken to small villages.
"We thought delinquency only happened in the cities, but now this culture of immorality has become widespread."
Him Yun, vice president of the Khmer Youth Association, told the Post Sunday that he welcomed measures to control delinquency, but he warned authorities not to use the directive as a front for their own bullying.
"While we approve measures to cope with problematic youngsters, local authorities should implement measures effectively," Him Yun said.