I. FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES
1. The prevention of juvenile delinquency is an essential part of crime
prevention in society. By engaging in lawful, socially useful activities
and adopting a humanistic orientation towards society and outlook on life,
young persons can develop non-criminogenic attitudes.
2. The successful prevention of juvenile delinquency requires efforts
on the part of the entire society to ensure the harmonious development
of adolescents, with respect for and promotion of their personality from
3. For the purposes of the interpretation of the present Guidelines,
a child-centred orientation should be pursued. Young persons should have
an active role and partnership within society and should not be considered
as mere objects of socialization or control.
4. In the implementation of the present Guidelines, in accordance with
national legal systems, the well-being of young persons from their early
childhood should be the focus of any preventive programme.
5. The need for and importance of progressive delinquency prevention
policies and the systematic study and the elaboration of measures should
be recognized. These should avoid criminalizing and penalizing a child
for behaviour that does not cause serious damage to the development of
the child or harm to others. Such policies and measures should involve:
(a) The provision of opportunities, in particular educational opportunities,
to meet the varying needs of young persons and to serve as a supportive
framework for safeguarding the personal development of all young persons,
particularly those who are demonstrably endangered or at social risk and
are in need of special care and protection;
(b) Specialized philosophies and approaches for delinquency prevention,
on the basis of laws, processes, institutions, facilities and a service
delivery network aimed at reducing the motivation, need and opportunity
for, or conditions giving rise to, the commission of infractions;
(c) Official intervention to be pursued primarily in the overall interest
of the young person and guided by fairness and equity;
(d) Safeguarding the well-being, development, rights and interests of
all young persons;
(e) Consideration that youthful behaviour or conduct that does not conform
to overall social norms and values is often part of the maturation and
growth process and tends to disappear spontaneously in most individuals
with the transition to adulthood;
(f) Awareness that, in the predominant opinion of experts, labelling
a young person as "deviant'', "delinquent" or "pre-delinquent"
often contributes to the development of a consistent pattern of undesirable
behaviour by young persons.
6. Community-based services and programmes should be developed for the
prevention of juvenile delinquency, particularly where no agencies have
yet been established. Formal agencies of social control should only be
utilized as a means of last resort.
II. SCOPE OF THE GUIDELINES
7. The present Guidelines should be interpreted and implemented within
the broad framework of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International
Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant
on Civil and Political Rights, the Declaration of the Rights of the Child
and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and in the context of the
United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile
Justice (The Beijing Rules), as well as other instruments and norms relating
to the rights, interests and well-being of all children and young persons.
8. The present Guidelines should also be implemented in the context
of the economic, social and cultural conditions prevailing in each Member
III. GENERAL PREVENTION
9. Comprehensive prevention plans should be instituted at every level
of Government and include the following:
(a) In-depth analyses of the problem and inventories of programmes,
services, facilities and resources available;
(b) Well-defined responsibilities for the qualified agencies, institutions
and personnel involved in preventive efforts;
(c) Mechanisms for the appropriate co-ordination of prevention efforts
between governmental and non-governmental agencies;
(d) Policies, programmes and strategies based on prognostic studies
to be continuously monitored and carefully evaluated in the course of implementation;
(e) Methods for effectively reducing the opportunity to commit delinquent
(f) Community involvement through a wide range of services and programmes;
(g) Close interdisciplinary co-operation between national, State, provincial
and local governments, with the involvement of the private sector representative
citizens of the community to be served, and labour, child-care, health
education, social, law enforcement and judicial agencies in taking concerted
action to prevent juvenile delinquency and youth crime;
(h) Youth participation in delinquency prevention policies and processes,
including recourse to community resources, youth self-help, and victim
compensation and assistance programmes;
(i) Specialized personnel at all levels.
IV. SOCIALIZATION PROCESSES
10. Emphasis should be placed on preventive policies facilitating the
successful socialization and integration of all children and young persons,
in particular through the family, the community, peer groups, schools,
vocational training and the world of work, as well as through voluntary
organizations. Due respect should be given to the proper personal development
of children and young persons, and they should be accepted as full and
equal partners in socialization and integration processes.
11. Every society should place a high priority on the needs and well-being
of the family and of all its members.
12. Since the family is the central unit responsible for the primary
socialization of children, governmental and social efforts to preserve
the integrity of the family, including the extended family, should be pursued.
The society has a responsibility to assist the family in providing care
and protection and in ensuring the physical and mental well-being of children.
Adequate arrangements including day-care should be provided.
13. Governments should establish policies that are conducive to the
bringing up of children in stable and settled family environments. Families
in need of assistance in the resolution of conditions of instability or
conflict should be provided with requisite services.
14. Where a stable and settled family environment is lacking and when
community efforts to assist parents in this regard have failed and the
extended family cannot fulfil this role, alternative placements, including
foster care and adoption, should be considered. Such placements should
replicate, to the extent possible, a stable and settled family environment,
while, at the same time, establishing a sense of permanency for children,
thus avoiding problems associated with "foster drift".
15. Special attention should be given to children of families affected
by problems brought about by rapid and uneven economic, social and cultural
change, in particular the children of indigenous, migrant and refugee families.
As such changes may disrupt the social capacity of the family to secure
the traditional rearing and nurturing of children, often as a result of
role and culture conflict, innovative and socially constructive modalities
for the socialization of children have to be designed.
16. Measures should be taken and programmes developed to provide families
with the opportunity to learn about parental roles and obligations as regards
child development and child care, promoting positive parent-child relationships,
sensitizing parents to the problems of children and young persons and encouraging
their involvement in family and community-based activities.
17. Governments should take measures to promote family cohesion and
harmony and to discourage the separation of children from their parents,
unless circumstances affecting the welfare and future of the child leave
no viable alternative.
18. It is important to emphasize the socialization function of the family
and extended family; it is also equally important to recognize the future
role, responsibilities, participation and partnership of young persons
19. In ensuring the right of the child to proper socialization, Governments
and other agencies should rely on existing social and legal agencies, but,
whenever traditional institutions and customs are no longer effective,
they should also provide and allow for innovative measures.
20. Governments are under an obligation to make public education accessible
to all young persons.
21. Education systems should, in addition to their academic and vocational
training activities, devote particular attention to the following:
(a) Teaching of basic values and developing respect for the child's
own cultural identity and patterns, for the social values of the country
in which the child is living, for civilizations different from the child's
own and for human rights and fundamental freedoms;
(b) Promotion and development of the personality, talents and mental
and physical abilities of young people to their fullest potential;
(c) Involvement of young persons as active and effective participants
in, rather than mere objects of, the educational process;
(d) Undertaking activities that foster a sense of identity with and
of belonging to the school and the community;
(e) Encouragement of young persons to understand and respect diverse
views and opinions, as well as cultural and other differences;
(f) Provision of information and guidance regarding vocational training,
employment opportunities and career development;
(g) Provision of positive emotional support to young persons and the
avoidance of psychological maltreatment;
(h) Avoidance of harsh disciplinary measures, particularly corporal
22. Educational systems should seek to work together with parents, community
organizations and agencies concerned with the activities of young persons.
23. Young persons and their families should be informed about the law
and their rights and responsibilities under the law, as well as the universal
value system, including United Nations instruments.
24. Educational systems should extend particular care and attention
to young persons who are at social risk. Specialized prevention programmes
and educational materials, curricula, approaches and tools should be developed
and fully utilized.
25. Special attention should be given to comprehensive policies and
strategies for the prevention of alcohol, drug and other substance abuse
by young persons. Teachers and other professionals should be equipped and
trained to prevent and deal with these problems. Information on the use
and abuse of drugs, including alcohol, should be made available to the
26. Schools should serve as resource and referral centres for the provision
of medical, counselling and other services to young persons, particularly
those with special needs and suffering from abuse, neglect, victimization
27. Through a variety of educational programmes, teachers and other
adults and the student body should be sensitized to the problems, needs
and perceptions of young persons, particularly those belonging to underprivileged,
disadvantaged, ethnic or other minority and low-income groups.
28. School systems should attempt to meet and promote the highest professional
and educational standards with respect to curricula, teaching and learning
methods and approaches, and the recruitment and training of qualified teachers.
Regular monitoring and assessment of performance by the appropriate professional
organizations and authorities should be ensured.
29. School systems should plan, develop and implement extracurricular
activities of interest to young persons, in co-operation with community
30. Special assistance should be given to children and young persons
who find it difficult to comply with attendance codes, and to "drop-outs".
31. Schools should promote policies and rules that are fair and just;
students should be represented in bodies formulating school policy, including
policy on discipline, and decision-making.
32. Community-based services and programmes which respond to the special
needs, problems, interests and concerns of young persons and which offer
appropriate counselling and guidance to young persons and their families
should be developed, or strengthened where they exist.
33. Communities should provide, or strengthen where they exist, a wide
range of community-based support measures for young persons, including
community development centres, recreational facilities and services to
respond to the special problems of children who are at social risk. In
providing these helping measures, respect for individual rights should
34. Special facilities should be set up to provide adequate shelter
for young persons who are no longer able to live at home or who do not
have homes to live in.
35. A range of services and helping measures should be provided to deal
with the difficulties experienced by young persons in the transition to
adulthood. Such services should include special programmes for young drug
abusers which emphasize care, counselling, assistance and therapy-oriented
36. Voluntary organizations providing services for young persons should
be given financial and other support by Governments and other institutions.
37. Youth organizations should be created or strengthened at the local
level and given full participatory status in the management of community
affairs. These organizations should encourage youth to organize collective
and voluntary projects, particularly projects aimed at helping young persons
in need of assistance.
38. Government agencies should take special responsibility and provide
necessary services for homeless or street children; information about local
facilities, accommodation, employment and other forms and sources of help
should be made readily available to young persons.
39. A wide range of recreational facilities and services of particular
interest to young persons should be established and made easily accessible
D. Mass media
40. The mass media should be encouraged to ensure that young persons
have access to information and material from a diversity of national and
41. The mass media should be encouraged to portray the positive contribution
of young persons to society.
42. The mass media should be encouraged to disseminate information on
the existence of services, facilities and opportunities for young persons
43. The mass media generally, and the television and film media in particular,
should be encouraged to minimize the level of pornography, drugs and violence
portrayed and to display violence and exploitation disfavourably, as well
as to avoid demeaning and degrading presentations, especially of children,
women and interpersonal relations, and to promote egalitarian principles
44. The mass media should be aware of its extensive social role and
responsibility, as well as its influence, in communications relating to
youthful drug and alcohol abuse. It should use its power for drug abuse
prevention by relaying consistent messages through a balanced approach.
Effective drug awareness campaigns at all levels should be promoted.
V. SOCIAL POLICY
45. Government agencies should give high priority to plans and programmes
for young persons and should provide sufficient funds and other resources
for the effective delivery of services, facilities and staff for adequate
medical and mental health care, nutrition, housing and other relevant services,
including drug and alcohol abuse prevention and treatment, ensuring that
such resources reach and actually benefit young persons.
46. The institutionalization of young persons should be a measure of
last resort and for the minimum necessary period, and the best interests
of the young person should be of paramount importance. Criteria authorizing
formal intervention of this type should be strictly defined and limited
to the following situations: (a) where the child or young person has suffered
harm that has been inflicted by the parents or guardians; (b) where the
child or young person has been sexually, physically or emotionally abused
by the parents or guardians; (c) where the child or young person has been
neglected, abandoned or exploited by the parents or guardians; (d) where
the child or young person is threatened by physical or moral danger due
to the behaviour of the parents or guardians; and (e) where a serious physical
or psychological danger to the child or young person has manifested itself
in his or her own behaviour and neither the parents, the guardians, the
juvenile himself or herself nor non-residential community services can
meet the danger by means other than institutionalization.
47. Government agencies should provide young persons with the opportunity
of continuing in full-time education, funded by the State where parents
or guardians are unable to support the young persons, and of receiving
48. Programmes to prevent delinquency should be planned and developed
on the basis of reliable, scientific research findings, and periodically
monitored, evaluated and adjusted accordingly.
49. Scientific information should be disseminated to the professional
community and to the public at large about the sort of behaviour or situation
which indicates or may result in physical and psychological victimization,
harm and abuse, as well as exploitation, of young persons.
50. Generally, participation in plans and programmes should be voluntary.
Young persons themselves should be involved in their formulation, development
51. Government should begin or continue to explore, develop and implement
policies, measures and strategies within and outside the criminal justice
system to prevent domestic violence against and affecting young persons
and to ensure fair treatment to these victims of domestic violence.
VI. LEGISLATION AND JUVENILE JUSTICE ADMINISTRATION
52. Governments should enact and enforce specific laws and procedures
to promote and protect the rights and well-being of all young persons.
53. Legislation preventing the victimization, abuse, exploitation and
the use for criminal activities of children and young persons should be
enacted and enforced.
54. No child or young person should be subjected to harsh or degrading
correction or punishment measures at home, in schools or in any other institutions.
55. Legislation and enforcement aimed at restricting and controlling
accessibility of weapons of any sort to children and young persons should
56. In order to prevent further stigmatization, victimization and criminalization
of young persons, legislation should be enacted to ensure that any conduct
not considered an offence or not penalized if committed by an adult is
not considered an offence and not penalized if committed by a young person.
57. Consideration should be given to the establishment of an office
of ombudsman or similar independent organ, which would ensure that the
status, rights and interests of young persons are upheld and that proper
referral to available services is made. The ombudsman or other organ designated
would also supervise the implementation of the Riyadh Guidelines, the Beijing
Rules and the Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty.
The ombudsman or other organ would, at regular intervals, publish a report
on the progress made and on the difficulties encountered in the implementation
of the instrument. Child advocacy services should also be established.
58. Law enforcement and other relevant personnel, of both sexes, should
be trained to respond to the special needs of young persons and should
be familiar with and use, to the maximum extent possible, programmes and
referral possibilities for the diversion of young persons from the justice
59. Legislation should be enacted and strictly enforced to protect children
and young persons from drug abuse and drug traffickers.
VII. RESEARCH, POLICY DEVELOPMENT AND CO-ORDINATION
60. Efforts should be made and appropriate mechanisms established to
promote, on both a multidisciplinary and an intradisciplinary basis, interaction
and co-ordination between economic, social, education and health agencies
and services, the justice system, youth, community and development agencies
and other relevant institutions.
61. The exchange of information, experience and expertise gained through
projects, programmes, practices and initiatives relating to youth crime,
delinquency prevention and juvenile justice should be intensified at the
national, regional and international levels.
62. Regional and international co-operation on matters of youth crime,
delinquency prevention and juvenile justice involving practitioners, experts
and decision makers should be further developed and strengthened.
63. Technical and scientific co-operation on practical and policy-related
matters, particularly in training, pilot and demonstration projects, and
on specific issues concerning the prevention of youth crime and juvenile
delinquency should be strongly supported by all Governments, the United
Nations system and other concerned organizations.
64. Collaboration should be encouraged in undertaking scientific research
with respect to effective modalities for youth crime and juvenile delinquency
prevention and the findings of such research should be widely disseminated
65. Appropriate United Nations bodies, institutes, agencies and offices
should pursue close collaboration and co-ordination on various questions
related to children juvenile justice and youth crime and juvenile delinquency
66. On the basis of the present Guidelines, the United Nations Secretariat,
in co-operation with interested institutions, should play an active role
in the conduct of research, scientific collaboration, the formulation of
policy options and the review and monitoring of their implementation, and
should serve as a source of reliable information on effective modalities
for delinquency prevention.