Center of Educational Technologies

Legal Aspects of Protection of the Rights of Children and Youth in the Sphere of Education

S. V. Shiro
MSc in pedagogy,
Volgograd State Pedagogical University

Lately juvenile delinquency has reached a threatening dimension and has become one of the urgent social problems. It is especially true of big cities, because negative processes, caused by difficult social and economic situations in the country, are most pronounced in them. Juvenile delinquency is increasing every year, with negative youth’s attitudes towards the law and law-enforcing organs is growing. Tendency of negative and often cynical attitude to moral and spiritual basis of society is becoming more evident. Over the period of five years, a number of crimes committed by children under age have grown by more than 2%. Likewise, a number of crimes committed by teenagers in groups have grown. For this period juvenile delinquency, according to different estimates, accounts for 30-40% of the total number of crimes committed in the country. Terrible statistics of juvenile delinquency in modern Russia, which has grown younger, indicate that from 35% to 40% of students of public schools commit crimes later in their lives. Practical work of the Center of temporal isolation of underage criminals in the Volgograd oblast shows that 60% of children, residing the Center, are of 8 to 14 years old.

The problem of social orphan hood has become very acute. According to official data, we have 625 thousand such children in the country, with 90% of them having parents. The situation is aggravated by the fact that, according to research findings, only one out of ten students leaving public orphanages finds his or her place in society. All the rest join criminal structures, become homeless and unemployed. The situation with growth of juvenile delinquency is aggravating and complicated by reviving homelessness and neglect of children, which are taking forms of a national disaster. According to different estimates, there are from 3 to 5 million homeless children in Russia.

About 400 thousand families in Russia have single father, about 5 million families have single mother (there are about 12 million families in Russia); about 300 thousand children are born out of wedlock; 35-40 thousand run from their homes (Sibiriakov S. Z. Prevention of deviant behavior of youth (methodological and applied problems). Volgograd, 1998. P. 28).

The data of social surveys show that up to 60% of children of younger age have symptoms of rickets, hypotrophy and diathesis, and over 10% - anemia. 15- 20% of children of school age suffer from chronic diseases, and not more than 10- 14 % of children are practically healthy. Obramov V.I. The rights of the child. Penza, 1994. P. 13). Over 4,5% of children suffer from various forms of mental diseases.

A number of disabled children are constantly growing. 12780 such children are registered in Volgograd oblast. The number was by 4,5 thousand less five years ago. According to forecasts of the Center of Social Assistance to Family and Children in Volgograd oblast, in case this tendency keeps, in five years doctors will diagnose every fifth born child as an invalid.

There are serious violations of the rights of children in the sphere of education. These are excessive tasks, domineering methods of education and administration that the teachers are using (sociologists hold that up to 46% of teachers acknowledge that they use domineering methods of education and consider them necessary. Among violations, we can name groundless transfer of children to correction classes and special schools.

Results of research show that the number of teenagers oriented to law abiding way of life and possessing stable moral position, is becoming less every year, and today they make up not more than 15-20% of the existing population. For all that, 25-30% of teenagers are potential deviants, and the rest 50-60% (making up the main mass) can be referred to unstable type, with some representatives prone to transfer to the number of active deviants (Sibiriakov S.L. Place and role of mass media in the system of preventing deviant behavior of youth // Mass media and legal culture of population. Volgograd, 1999).

The situation as it is causes well-grounded anxiety about the future of the Russian state. Due to it, the need to improve the whole system of legal education is urgent. Legal education can become a decisive factor of developing positive sense of justice, prevention of juvenile delinquency, prevention of neglect and homelessness, provision of protection of rights of children in line with the Convention on children’s rights, social rehabilitation of children who found themselves if especially difficult life circumstances.

Investigation of this problem made it possible to single out the causes for the growth of juvenile delinquency: lack of system of legal education at all the stages of educating children in educational institutions; insufficient interaction between various children’s organizations and institutions, engaged in patriotic, spiritual, moral and legal education of children and teenagers; lack of specific, purposeful and coordinated policy of developing sense of justice of children under age; open propagation of cult of violence, permissiveness, cosmopolitism, neglect of customs, traditions and history of our Motherland in mass media, which is a rude violation of the Convention on Children’s Rights; lack of reliable sources on legal reality, law's, adapted for children of different ages and level of education (about 70% of teenagers get legal information from friends, acquaintances, relatives, parents, that is people who only have vague ideas about law); lack of experienced personnel of high qualification, capable of organizing legal education of youth, develop positive sense of justice and desire to observe laws consciously and voluntarily.

Legislation on provision rights of children in the field of education and culture is based on the Constitution of the Russian Federation, federal laws ‘(En Education’, ‘(En the main guarantees of children’s rights in the Russian Federation’, 'Principles of Legislation on Culture in the Russian Federation’, ‘Principles of Legislation on Physical Culture and Sports in the Russian Federation’ and other normative-legal documents.

Rights of the child can’t be infringed in the process of educating and upbringing the child in the family, in an educational institution, special educational institution or other institution rendering corresponding services. What should we do to provide realization of rights of children and youth for education? How can we improve legal culture and develop sense of justice of young people?

First of all, it’s necessary to start training teachers of law for secondary schools; educational institutions have high demand for specialists with legal background, who know child psychology, pedagogy and methods of teaching law. In the Volgograd oblast there are 1318 schools, 78 vocational schools and other educational institutions of different levels. All these educational institutions have courses Science of Law* and 'Civil Studies11. Analysis shows that due to lack of trained teachers of these subjects, they are taught by teachers of History, Basics of life safety, Physical culture and others, which presupposes superficial attitude to this discipline.

Law should become an obligatory discipline, like History, Russian and Literature, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry7 and others. Taking into account the fact that the majority of conflicts of young people happen because of their inability to find a compromise, it would be reasonable to start teaching disciplines 'Pedagogy and Psychology’ or 'Psychology of communication’ in educational institutions of all types.

Second, it would be reasonable to work out the concept of legal education and developing sense of justice in children and teenagers, adapted to local conditions. We believe, it should encompass three periods: the first one for kindergartens; the second one - for grades from the first to the ninth; the third n for the tenth and eleventh grades. The second period can be divided into two stages: the first n for grades from the first to the fifth and second for grades from the sixth to the ninth.

And third, in order to solve successfully the tasks of preventing juvenile delinquency, homelessness and neglect of children, provision of real protection of children’s rights, purposeful training to specialists in the field of children’s law is necessary. Nowadays such training is lacking. The children’s lawyer organizations, commissions on children under age and other organizations engaged in the problems of legal education and prevention of juvenile delinquency, mainly employ people who don’t have special knowledge, but they have practical experience, and when they leave, this experience is lost. Lack of scientific basis of preventive and educational work in the field of law with teenagers greatly restricts their possibilities. At the same time, in accordance with requirements of the governing documents, people having higher pedagogical or legal education should work in such organizations.

Urgent need to train specialists, who work directly with children in especially difficult circumstances or have deviations in behavior, for example, pedagogue-juvenologist, is quite evident. It is confirmed by the fact that 120 thousand teenagers in the country are sentenced conditionally annually, about 50 thousand children under age serve punishment in penitentiary (correctional) institutions

Specialists who know perfectly well the causes of deviant behavior of children and youth and possess special skills to work with them can change this situation. It’s necessary to set up a system of justice for children under age and youth n juvenile law. All the cases, which touch the interests of youth, should be considered in juvenile courts. It is necessary to start training of specialists for work with children who possess experience, knowledge of law, special features of work with children of different ages, pedagogy. These specialists will possess psychology of juvenile lawyer.

The fact, that we have 36 million young people in our country7, that is every fifth person, testifies to the importance of training specialists for work with children and youth. Lack of specially trained personnel to work with youth substantially reduces efficiency of educational work in the field of law with teenagers, especially with those who are socially neglected.

If we want to cope with all these proprieties, we must help young people develop in their minds a culture of law-abiding and legal awareness and make them see that their rights will be guaranteed under law in every field of life.

Source: Молодежь России перед лицом глобальных вызовов на рубеже веков (Как противостоять агрессивному экстремизму, ксенофобии и насилию среди молодежи) : Материалы Международной конференции, 18–19 ноября 2000 г., Москва, Россия / под научной и общей редакцией И. М. Ильинского. Перевод на англ. яз. М., 2001. С. 276–280. ISBN 5-85085-643-9.