Affiliation: Wakayama Prefectural Mental Health and Welfare Center, 2-1-2 Tebira, Wakayama, 640-8319, Japan.
Objective: There is a substantial variability in the trends and patterns of juvenile delinquency worldwide. Japan has a system that involves both child welfare and juvenile justice systems. As in other countries, educative and treatment approaches have existed alongside approaches that emphasize punishment and deterrence.
Methods: This article reviews available statistics and relevant literature and summarizes the current trends and characteristics of juvenile delinquency in Japan. It discusses the challenges of child and adolescent mental health and juvenile justice, with the aim of fostering a better understanding of socio-cultural differences in juvenile delinquency.
Results: The number and rate of arrested juveniles have been decreasing during the last decade, and the number of juvenile delinquents referred to child welfare system also shows a steady decrease since the 1960s, with the exception that reports of school violence have increased. Although the association between juvenile crime and pervasive developmental disorder has been a focus of researchers and clinicians, the involvement of mental health professionals appears to be limited in the treatment of juvenile delinquency.
Conclusions: Even though juvenile crimes have been declining, Japan is behind in addressing them through mental health services. Therefore, establishing an effective mental health system including school-based mental health services which leads to the psychological and psychiatric understanding of delinquent behaviors and its effective treatment and prevention is an urgent challenge.