The Rehabilitation Theory in Adjudicating Child Offenders and Its Application in Malaysia

Mohd Al Adib Samuri, Zuliza Mohd Kusrin, Noor Aziah Mohd Awal, Amir Husin Bin Mohd Nor, Salasiah Binti Hanin Hamjah, Zaizul Bin Ab Rahman


Children who find themselves on the wrong side of the law must bear the legal consequences to ensure that they obey societal norms. The question is: what theory forms the legal basis for legal action against these troubled young offenders? Will the courts apply the deterrence theory by sentencing them to harsher punishments, or will they apply the rehabilitation theory by passing lighter orders? The objective of this article is to debate one of the theories applied by the Court for Children in their adjudicating process-the rehabilitation theory, and its application. This article will also discuss two legal provisions in the Child Act 2001 Malaysia (Act 611) which are based on the rehabilitation theory. This study finds that the rehabilitation theory is the best and most suitable theory to be applied to child offenders because it focuses on individual rehabilitation by taking into consideration the aspects of education, societal integration and rehabilitating them of their criminal mentality. The two aforementioned provisions, namely, on ‘approved school’ and ‘community services’, are orders founded on the rehabilitation theory and can potentially prevent child offenders from involving themselves in criminal activities in the future. The importance of this study is paramount as it shows that Malaysia is clearly behind in assimilating rehabilitative values and theory into Act 611. Ultimately, the placement of specific legislative provisions regarding community service within Act 611 is an initiative that must be expedited.

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