Juvenile Delinquency

Nilipta Mallick

ABSTRACT

Juvenile delinquency is the involvement of a kid who is between the age of 10 and 17 in illegal activity or behavior. It has been a sensitive issue to handle. The incidents of youth crime are not a rare phenomenon in our society. There has been a rapid increase of juvenile crime rate all over the world. The increasing rate of juvenile crime is decaying the development of our nation. Delinquent behavior and activities create unrest in our society and break the peace. It is regarded as a social disease which is creating an alarming situation. The causes of juvenile delinquency have been a controversial topic since ages. The child has a inherent right to live a healthy life. In order to prevent the child from bring delinquent, parents should give attention to the needs of the child instead of neglecting them. Children learn criminal skills from peer groups and indulge in drug, alcohol and smoking addition which leads to development of delinquent behavior. It should be everyone’s concern to overcome this problem and make a difference. The new act of Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 was amended with new provision of treating juvenile as an adult in case of heinous offences. All these were done by keeping in the view of public interest. Our nation depends upon children‘s future. If we can’t make their future bright how can we develop our country? Children are as precious as jewels. So, the hindrance in their growth and development is a critical issue. Motto of the Government should be to reduce inequality and ensure social justice which will lead to decrease in crime rate. Most importantly, fruitful job opportunities or employment help in reducing juvenile violence. Juvenile detention centers are established so that after serving punishment they can lead a healthy life with positive attitude. Rehabilitation can only bring the young minds back to the path of righteousness. Intervention at school level and family level is to give priority to reduce the number of delinquent victims.

JUVENILE DELINQUENCY: A THREAT TO OUR NATION

- Nilipta Mallick

Juvenile delinquency is considered a grave offence. It has been a disturbing trend that continuously hampers our society. Juvenile delinquency means participation of juvenile in criminal activities. Juvenile is a child who hasn’t attained 18 years of age. It is really difficult to accept that children are committing violent crimes but it’s the harsh reality. It is creating havoc in our society. It is not a social issue but also a legal issue. It has an unpleasant effect on our society because of its destructive nature. The menace is increasing in an uncontrolled way. So, prevention of youth crime is needed to balance our society. This has been a global issue. Children who are the backbone of our society are getting involved in crimes. So, progress of our country is at stake. Children start with petty offences like theft and end with committing serious offences like rape and murder. If the causes are not uprooted now, the child offenders can impact and destroy our society at a later stage. Children are the future of our nation and considered as assets. If children are not taken care of at their early stages of life, the future of our country will always remain in the dark. Children should be given special care for grooming at their budding stage. Development of the children leads to better future.

The root causes behind breaking of law by child offenders are sexual abuse or exploitation in the form of slavery, forced labor, child trafficking, and prostitution etc. Family influence is the most important factor of juvenile delinquency. Broken family in the form of divorce, frequent fights between parents, criminal parents, remarriage etc. lead to delinquent behavior of a child. Single parents lack proper connection with their child which increases the risk of the child being a delinquent. Unsupportive and unaffectionate families hamper the personality development of the children. Ignorance and lack of guidance, supervision and attachment by working parents promote their negative aggressive behavior. Weak family ties and lack of friendly interaction between the parents and the teenagers considerably increase juvenile’s involvement in delinquent activity. Poverty plays a significant role in causing the child to get involved in these anti- social activities. To fulfill their needs and basic necessities of life, homeless children take recourse to unlawful methods. They have a tendency to get money by any means. Economic deprivation leads the parents to neglect their child. In short lack of parental supervision and lack of love and affection have negative impact on their minds. Children living in slum areas are getting chances to involve in criminal engagements due to influence of antisocial neighbors. Poverty leads to poor nutrition which makes the children more vulnerable and violent. Depression, anxiety disorder, aggression, frustration, fear - all these are leading causes of a child being a delinquent and involving them in major crimes. Proper education plays an important in reducing crime rate of juveniles. School is regarded as the second home of a child where they are properly trained and motivated. Education provides them a promising future. Due to lack of discipline and regular habit of committing petty theft, drug/ alcohol abuse, lying and lack of teacher guidance affect the child’s psychology and lead to his delinquent behavior. Through proper education the behavior and attitude of juveniles can be shaped. Lack of education leads to unemployment and poor lifestyle. So unemployment, poverty and lack of education are correlated and make the situation worse. Low income leads to instability. So, crime becomes a channel to earn money. Easy availability and access to gun or firearms increase juvenile crimes. Interaction with peer groups leads to antisocial behavior of the child. Their influence is too dangerous and has negative outcomes. Sometimes these peer groups motivate, influence and pressurize the child to engage in criminal or harmful activities. Children are easily manipulated as they lack maturity. They are used as a tool by elder ones for the commission of crime. Child abuse has a key role to play in and has a major contribution to delinquent behavior. Drug use has become a serious impact on our judgment making process which in turn leads to violence. Due to its harmful impact, children are not able to differentiate between reality and illusion. Racism is also one of the predictors that lead to delinquency. It started as an initiation factor of delinquency. Our biased society does not treat minority equal with other races and continuously discriminate them which encourages delinquent behavior. The Juvenile often commit crime to prove them. Media has been a source of spreading negativity. Many video games are encouraging children to use guns and involve in serious violent activities. Obscene content shown by magazines is more of a trouble. Internet is always been a trap for children and most important in enhancing delinquent acts among juvenile. Through internet, children can easily access various porn sites which instigate them to rape. The repercussions are more dangerous than we can imagine. Nowadays media violence has been a source of inspiration for the innocent kids. So, it has been a major contributor in violent delinquency. Media is imprinting negative thoughts on young minds like violence which affects psychological development and increasing youth crime rate. Children are like wet cement. Whatever falls on it makes an impression.

As we know that prevention is better than cure. So, prevention is the best approach than reforming them. The children should be given information regarding consequences of using drugs and weapons. Through effective education, young people will get hope and opportunities which will lead them to their bright future. They should be educated about how to overcome substance abuse addiction. Family counseling is required to prevent the negative impact in child’s mind. Youth mentoring and their sheltering should be done in a priority basis. Guidance and supervision by parents is needed to overcome this evil. Parents should give emotional support and never criticize them for their failures. Spending more time with children is advisable. The entire society should make efforts to promote their personality from their early age. Parents should increase the level of communication with their children. Parents should not apply strict discipline on their children and stop punishing them when they fail to meet their expectations. Children should be provided with a healthy and safe atmosphere to overcome their delinquent behavior and grow with a crime free mind. Parental education should be given to raise healthy kids. Children should be checked thoroughly by school authorities whether they carry harmful weapons or drugs. We should not let the delinquent children to influence others. There is a proverb that one bad apple spoils the entire basket. So, to prevent the society from getting rotten, we have to keep an eye on the children’s activities. This will reduce the number of delinquency victims. Awareness should be done through television, radio, newspaper, movies etc regarding law and its consequences and importance of creating a good character. All the television shows and movies which portray violence, exploits should be removed as it encourage the child to commit unlawful thing. Social networking platform should post motivational quotes and moral value content which will have positive impact on them. Proper age restrictions should be imposed in all of the social networking platforms so that the child can’t see the sensitive content. Articles should be published in various online platforms regarding benefits of yoga, meditation, exercise. All these lead to personality development of the child. The teachers should give special attention to juvenile delinquents and the approach to deal with them has to be different from the rest normal kids. They should be sympathetic to them. Mentally and emotionally unstable children should not be ridiculed by anyone. Bullying prevention program will help in resolving the issue. Children should be encouraged to involve in recreational activities at school as well as in the community. Children should be prevented from mixing with immoral people. The problem of beggary should be controlled as slum and homeless children or economic deprived ones are at higher risk of being delinquent. Child guidance clinics should be established to treat mentally ill or disturbed kids. The children should not be labeled as criminal for their deviant behavior because it will encourage them to be habitual offenders. A good social and safe environment should be created to prevent the children from getting polluted as in slum areas, gambling centers etc. The formation of peer groups should be intervened as it might degrade the young mind and put risk on the society. The identification of juvenile delinquent along with giving treatment can somehow solve this issue.

In the wake of 2012, Nirbhaya Delhi gang rape case which shocked the whole world, a new law Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 was enacted. In this new act juvenile under the age group of 16-18 who are involved in heinous crimes like rape, murder etc. are to be tried as an adult. The co- accused who is involved in this case was a minor who was short up 6 months to be 18. He was convicted according to 2000 Act serving 3 years imprisonment in juvenile reform home. The other accused are sentenced to life imprisonment. When he was released after serving 3 years imprisonment, earlier law was challenged and nationwide criticism was done as minor was more brutal than other co-accused. Protests were held by activists and social reformers and many writ petitions were filed against relationship between age and severity of crime. So, keeping the view of giving social justice along with adopting child- friendly approach, the earlier act was amended. The objective of the act was to provide care, protection, rehabilitation to the delinquent juveniles. The new Act follows zero tolerance policies in case of heinous crimes committed by juveniles. Former chief justice of India, Krishna Iyer stated that we need penal code because the child is the father of man .If we neglect the underdevelopment in children, then we would be guilty of abandoning our children. So our motto will be to give proper care and protection and uplift them in every aspect. Duty and responsibility of the society is to join hands and fight for this threat. So, that they would not be wayward and proved to be beneficial to our society. The Act has proved to be a great way for managing crime. The major change is that no child can be awarded a death penalty or life imprisonment under this new Act. This new Act inserted a provision of setting of child welfare committees as well as juvenile justice boards in every district. Not less than one lady should be there to assist in both juvenile justice boards and child welfare committees. This act had brought an adoption law which be universally accepted and it was done to make the lives of orphans or homeless children easier and solve the adoption issue. The amendments has been done with a view that children should be protected as far as possible and to keep away from adult justice system. According to the new act, if a juvenile is tried as an adult, he or she may be sentenced for a minimum of 7 years of imprisonment. The primary aim of keeping juveniles in juvenile homes is to make them understand what they have done and regret for their action without hampering their education. The rehabilitation of child is done with care so that the juvenile can be reintegrated back into the society. The rehabilitative process is done with keeping in mind of their age and mental condition. To improve their psychological behavior various training and activities are done. Government and various NGOs work together with common objective for their rehabilitation. Rehabilitation is important as it reduces the repetitive cycle of youth crime in our society. The hearing of juvenile cases must be informal unlike other hearings and the matter should be kept confidential. For best interest of the child, inspection and supervision are done by the board. So, for this reason juvenile homes are video linked. Sometimes surprise visit are done to keep a check on illegal activities done against them. Construction of juvenile homes should not be made like jails. Every juvenile should have separate home. Reformatory school is specially established for them with trained teachers to help them in gaining positive attitude. These teachers are like substituted parents help in developing and boosting their self-confidence. They are given group therapy as well as individual therapy as per the situation demand. The teachers should motivate them, show them positive outlooks and make them understand that their life is neither meaningless nor their birth. The teachers should create a feeling of togetherness as well as belongingness by involving them in many group activities. At such a tender age, media should not objectify the child as an offender as it will have a harmful impact on them. Juvenile justice act has brought many guidelines; one of them is not to disclose the photo or any other identity of the juvenile in any media. This also has been followed in case of Nirbhaya minor co- accused. This secrecy is maintained for best interest of the child. Constitution has laid down certain provisions for protection of rights and welfare of the children. These provisions are:-Article 21(A) (Right to free and compulsory education for all the children under 6 to 14 years of age), Article 24 (Right to be protected against hazardous employment under the age of 14 years), Article 39(Right to be protected from bonded labor system and human trafficking), Article 47( Right to be provided with good nutrition and proper standard of living ). While drafting Juvenile justice act, 2015, the law makers have put all its attention on all these provision provided in the constitution.

Police play an active role in ensuring child protection. They are regarded as gatekeepers of criminal justice system. They work for the safety of the society. Police help in protecting children who have been abandoned or left on streets. In crime prone area, police patrolling is done to prevent youngsters from committing crimes. Sometimes police officers visit classrooms to discover their criminal behavior and warm them about its consequences. Modern police should believe in prevention rather than arrest and prosecution as they are considered as the preservation of peace and protection of life and property. Juvenile police units are trained to discover pre-delinquents. This will be one of their specializations while handing juvenile problems. Predetermination at an early age is must. Police are considered as an role model and often proved as a savior. In some cases the police officer even grant bail to juvenile based on prima facie facts.

The judges in the court play active role in protecting the constitutional and legal rights of juveniles. The judges indirectly turn these delinquent juveniles into productive citizens of our society with their ideal approach. They play a crucial role in administration of justice. They help in preventing children from abusers and assure that they get proper rehabilitative services. So, the court as well as the judges makes sure that the juvenile achieve his/her full potential. It has accomplished its goal by focusing on the best interest of the juvenile involved in the crime. This social institution plays a key leadership role while providing custody and care of a child. The role of court is much more than giving verdict. It solves the basic questions “what made him/her to do this crime” and what should be done for them. The motto of juvenile court is to provide care and protection to abused or neglected children as well as preserve and strengthen the families. They are regarded as the best institution as they maintain public safety by reforming the young minds who are involved in crimes

It is true that harsher laws will lower the crime rate. But the parents, teachers and the whole society should nurture the child in a proper way and shape their minds to stop this menace at an early age. It was well said by f. Douglass that it is easier to build strong children than to repair a broken man. As children are asset to our nation as well as special gift from god. So, the children should be provided with healthy and safe environment for their growth and development. So, that they become physically fit and mentally strong and hence turn out to be a responsible citizen. Our government should reduce inequality and provide equal opportunities to all its children in spite of discrimination. M.K Gandhi once said that every saint has a past then every criminal has a future. So, the government should focus on reformation method than punishment. Punishment is never a solution but instead encouraging them is a gateway to reverse this trend. Primary motto will be to stop continuous happening of offence. So, for that reformation is necessary instead of punishing the child. As punishment may induce the juvenile delinquent to become a serial offender and it will be troublesome for the society. Proper laws, rules and regulations are there but it is not executed properly. As day by day juvenile laws are being evolving towards mere perfection, more should be required and it should be done by the government. To bring change on a larger perspective, more child rights activists will have to wake up and move forward in the direction of transforming more and more juvenile offenders. By preventing delinquency we can reduce the burden of crime on society and make the society a safer place to live and indirectly boost our economy. A person is always corrected by love and affection but not by hate. This quote by M.K Gandhi has changed lot of child offenders. So, large number of observation homes, special homes and different types of juvenile detention centers have been instituted for taking care of them starting for education to healthcare and increasing the chances of better future for them. The government should integrate the children into the mainstream for their best interest as well as for the society. By solving this problem we can remove the imperfection of our society as far as possible and transferring the sick society into a healthy one.

FOOTNOTES:-

-Nirbhaya Delhi gang rape case

-Juvenile justice act, 2015

-Article 21(A), 24, 39, 47 of Indian Constitution.