Written by Tanvi Gupta of UILS, Panjab University
Edited by Noor Deewan
Children are the gift of God who helps in shaping the future of the nation. Every child nurture in different circumstances; some societal and environmental conditions diverge their mind to criminal tendencies. As per the record of 2017, around 40,000 juveniles were put behind the bars in the country and out of the 72% belonged to the age group of 16-18 years[i]. These numbers raise a certain amount of questions in the mind of an avid reader and an aware citizen. These crimes can vary from charge for drunk and drive to found guilty for rape. However, the recent statistics of 2019[ii] reveal that the ‘educated’ juveniles have committed more crime than the ‘illiterate’ ones. Is this directing towards the poor upbringing, misuse of technology and resources, behavioural issues etc.?
MEANING & DEFINITION
Recently, Juvenile delinquency has become an important part of criminology. The word ‘Juvenile’ has been originated from the Latin word ‘iuvenilis’ meaning someone not physically or emotionally mature. Juvenile Justice Act 1896, defined juvenile “as a child in case of a boy who has not completed 16 years and in case of a girl 18 years of age.” However, this was revoked and currently as per Section 2(h) of the Juvenile Justice (care and protection) Act 2015, ‘the juvenile means any child below the age of 18 years.
Delinquency has the origin from the Latin word ‘delinquere’ meaning to leave or to abandon. Whenever an individual deviates from layman social life, he is delinquent. ‘Robinson’ defines it as an umbrella of dejected behaviours based on time, place and law. This delinquent behaviour can be running away from home, lack of emotional connect with family, use of vulgar language, involvement in illegal activities, etc.
Juvenile delinquency defined by Cyle B. Vedder as “It refers to the anti-social acts of children and of young people underage. Such acts are either specifically forbidden by law or maybe lawfully interpreted as constituting delinquency, or as requiring some form of official action”.
CAUSES OF JUVENILE DELINQUENCY
To understand the cause of the delinquent act you need to understand their life, their circumstances and their behaviour. This act could be a result of some individual factor, family structure, mental condition or exposure to abuse.
- Family Environment: Parenting is a key to blossoming a bud into a flower. Various factor such as parent’s separation, unhealthy family relations, lack of supervision by parents, poverty, recurring fights within spouse etc. causes a child to take a wrong step. Children resulted from unwanted pregnancy are expected to show delinquent acts. Children belonging to families with criminal background are likely to show delinquent act.
- Individual factors: A minor who is not aware of law is not feared by law. A person might indulge in illegal activities such as gambling due to dire need of money and poor education.
- Peer Pressure: Youth is often influenced and batted by the lifestyle of their friends. As a rotten apple spoils all other apples, any bad company could lead to group crimes such as theft, rape etc. An anti-social association leads to violence, disruption and vandalism in the nation.
- Behavioural issues: Most of the crimes occur in the fiat of anger, generally when an individual feels dejected, he is most like to have a ‘hostile attribution’ which leads to impulse reactions.
- Mental Health: Mental health has been a burning topic on social media. This could relate to any person suffering from a major mental disorder or to a person living an unhealthy lifestyle. It is often found that layman lack empathy and treats these special kids as a clown.
- Sexual Abuse: Children who have faced sexual abuse are likely to have either a short term or long-term effect. This could result in indulging in drugs, unwanted pregnancies, mental trauma, anxiety etc.
- Modern Lifestyle: The rapidly changing societal patterns and modern living style, makes it very difficult for children and adolescents to adjust themselves to the new ways of lifestyle. They are confronted with problems of culture conflicts and are unable to differentiate between right and wrong.
JUVENILE LAWS IN INDIA
Juvenile law was formed late back in 1896 and it has evolved over time. In 2015, the Juvenile Justice (care and protection) Act was passed by the parliament replacing the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000. This act aimed at treating a minor of 16-18 years age committing heinous crimes at par with an adult. Law differentiates between a child and a juvenile, a child committing a crime is sent to Child care centre; however, a juvenile (16-18 years) is tried as an adult in court proceedings.
The act of 2015 made a crystal-clear distinction between the offence as petty, serious or heinous. It has also expanded the definition of child under ‘care and protection’. It defines the meaning and rights of an adopted child.
‘Claim of Juvenility’ is to be decided by the Juvenile Justice Board. The board has to decide this before the court proceeding but this claim can be raised at any stage of proceedings. As per section 9 of the act, it can be raised even after the disposal of the case. It was decided and upheld in various cases that whether the accused is juvenile or not would be decided on the basis of date of birth in school records.[iii] Furthermore, the law clarified that the age of juvenile will be considered on the day the accused is brought before the authority.
PREVENTIVE PROGRAMMES OF JUVENILE DELINQUENCY
Children are the asset and wealth of the nation. It is important to take timely steps to prevent further offences. These can be individual programmes or environmental programmes. The following steps can bring a major change:
- Removal of inferiority complex from the child will reduce in crime ratio. He will feel satisfied and accomplished in life.
- Teachers being the epitome of knowledge should encourage moral values and unbiases in class.
- Recreational activities should be promoted to indulge a child’s energy in different activities. This act as an exit point from stress and mental trauma.
- Schools should promote sex education and general law awareness. They should have a counsellor to guide the children.
- Parents should try and spend quality time with their children.
Juvenile Act has increased and their nature of offences has retaliated over time. A juvenile should be provided with a healthy environment so that he or she become civilized citizens who are mentally, physically and emotionally strong. Laws are reformative in nature and should provide a scope of improvement and rehabilitation in the accused. There should be measures taken to remove inequality and ensure social justice and equal opportunities for every child.
[iii] Deoki Nandan Dayma v. State of Uttar Pradesh, 1997 i0 SCC 525
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