DCI – prevention of deliquency

Defence for Children International

United Nations Guidelines for the Prevention of Juvenile

Delinquency – Riyadh Guidelines


Fundamental principles
Scope of the guidelines

Socialisation process

Social policy

and juvenile adminstration
Research policy

development and co-ordination


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 early


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.


Return to the top

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


8.The present Guidelines should also be implemented in the context

of the economic, social and cultural conditions prevailing in each Member State.


Return to the top

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


e)Methods for effectively reducing the opportunity to commit

delinquent acts;

f ) Community involvement through a wide range of services and


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.


Return to the top

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.

A. Family

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


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 in


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.

B. Education

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


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 student body.

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 and exploitation.

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 groups.

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.

C. Community

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 be ensured.

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


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 to them.

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

international sources.

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 in


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 and


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.


Return to the top

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

work experience.

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 and implementation.

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


Return to the top

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


55.Legislation and enforcement aimed at restricting and controlling

accessibility of weapons of any sort to children and young persons should be


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 system.

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


Return to the top

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 and evaluated.

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.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.