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Juvenile Delinquency in India Causes and Prevention

Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 aims to replace the existing Indian Juvenile Delinquency Law, Juvenile Justice Act, 2000, so that juveniles in conflict with the law, involved in Heinous Offences, can be tried as adults. Juvenile here refers to those adolescents who have not yet achieved the age of majority or fall within the age group of 16-18 years.

Juvenile Crime is not naturally born in the child but it is largely present in him because of the surroundings that he is brought up in, his own absurd actions or simply lack of discipline and proper education.
As Fredrick Douglass says:
It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men. The youth is regarded to be one of the greatest assets of a country. If this population is not well groomed the future of a country would certainly not be very bright. We as a whole have a moral as well as an ethical responsibility to provide all children with a healthy environment to study and grow in.

The most common reasons for a child to go against the law is either lack of education or faults in their upbringing that is due to unhealthy socio-cultural environment resulting in the child to become physically and mentally unfit as well as an irresponsible citizen. Fair and equivalent chances must be given to all youngsters to diminish imbalance and guarantee social equity in the country.

Children are expected to be obedient, respectful and have good virtues. However, due to certain circumstances, some children are unable to follow the set social and legal dictum. These children often get involved in criminal behavior which is known a Juvenile Delinquency or Juvenile Crime.

Who is a Juvenile?

According to Section 2(k) of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 defines “Juvenile” or “Child” as a person who has not completed 18th year of age. A juvenile is a young person who has not met a specific age as prescribed by the law of a country and doesn’t abide resemblance as a matured person who can be made legally liable for his criminal activities.

What is Juvenile Delinquency?

Juvenile Delinquency refers to participation of minors in illegal crimes. When a person deviates from the normal course of his social life his behavior is termed as ‘delinquent’. In other words when a juvenile’s actions prove to be dangerous towards the society and for him, he may be called a juvenile delinquent. The act of delinquency may include running away from home, use of inappropriate or vulgar languages, committing sexual offences etc.

Historical Background of Juvenile Justice System India

Prior to the Juvenile Justice Act 1986, enacted by the Parliament to provide care, protection, treatment, development and rehabilitation to neglected or delinquent juveniles, the Juvenile Justice Act, 1960 was operative throughout the country. in India and hence, Juvenile Justice Act, 2000 was enacted. Later the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 came into force w.e.f. 30th December 2000 as the primary legal framework for juvenile justice in India.

This act was further amended in 2006 and 2010. In the wake of Delhi gang rape (16th December 2012) this law suffered a nationwide criticism owing to its helplessness against crimes where juveniles get involved in heinous crimes like rape and murder but cannot be tried. The Juvenile Justice Bill, 2014 was then passed by the Parliament in December, 2015and it became the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015. It came into force from 15th January 2016. Under the Act of 1986, Section 2(a) defined the term juvenile is a "boy who has not attained the age of 16 years and girl who has not attained the age of 18 years". Meanwhile, India signed and ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), 1989, which treated a person as a juvenile who is below 18 years of age.

Causes of Juvenile Delinquency

Individual factors

There are several factors in an individual that may lead to his delinquent behavior. A minor who has lower intelligence and has not received proper education is more likely to be involved in delinquent behavior. Other factors may include impulsive behaviour, uncontrolled aggression, inability to delay gratification. Mental Health factors are also a part of individual factors. The mental state of an individual is extremely important for his behavior in the society. Thus, these factors can contribute to the involvement of a juvenile in harmful, destructive and illegal activities

Family Factors

Family factors may be inclusive of ongoing family feuds, neglect and abuse or absence of proper parental supervision. Children whose Parents demonstrate lack of respect of law and social norms of the country may imbibe the same. Moreover, children that display the weakest attachments with their families appear to be the same juveniles who engage in inappropriate activities.

Substance abuse factors

Substance abuse is found in a majority of juvenile delinquent cases. Juveniles today are using more powerful drugs than adolescents 10 years ago. Moreover, these children start consuming drugs at a younger age. The use of these illegal or legal substances leads to these adolescents to engage in committing crimes. Additionally, when a child is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, he is most likely to engage in destructive, harmful ad illegal activities.

Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency

Prevention is necessary for such children. Firstly, identification of such juveniles and then providing them with the required treatment is of utmost importance. These adolescents become habitual offenders if not timely stopped from committing offences. Moreover, the most effective way to prevent juvenile delinquency has indubitably been to assist children and their families from the very beginning. The State programs attempt at early intervention, allowing numerous groups to tackle this problem in a number of ways. There are many Jurists and criminologists who suggest various provisions for the prevention of juvenile delinquency. Some of the provisions that are very useful for the welfare, development and growth of the juveniles have been mentioned below.
  • Individual Programs- It involves the prevention of delinquency through counselling, psychotherapy and proper education.
  • Environmental Programs- involves the employment of techniques with a view to change the socio-economic context likely to promote delinquency.

Delinquency Prevention is the broad term for all efforts aimed at preventing youth from getting involved in criminal, or other antisocial activities. Various governments are recognizing the importance of allocating resources for the prevention of delinquency. Prevention services include activities such as substance abuse education, treatment, family counselling, youth mentoring, parenting education, educational support and youth sheltering.

The exploitation of children is one of the many evils present in our society. Such abuse has an enduring and profound effect on a child’s life. The problem of child abuse is serious because it forces the child to react or behave in such a way which is harmful to both society and him. This delinquent behavior of the adolescent is due to the mental trauma that he goes through in the early stages of his life. The abuse further varies in nature as physical, sexual, psychological or as a combination of them influencing these youngsters in a negative way.

It is important to eradicate this practice from society to keep control of the problem of Juvenile Delinquency. It is in the best interest of the deviant child to rehabilitate him as early as possible an integrate him back into society. The State has a duty to protect the rights of these children and to come up with reformative methods to inculcate values in these children which can socially uplift and give confidence to them so that they can further play a constructive role in the society. 

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