By – Supriya
In ordinary terms, a child roughly between the age of 7 to 16 or 18 years who is involved in some kind of a ‘status offence’ such as vagrancy , immortality, truancy and ungovernability is a juvenile delinquent . Thus, juvenile delinquency is not just about under-aged criminals who get involved in criminal activities. In fact, the term ‘ juvenile delinquency ‘ refers to the violation of a code of conduct or a regular occurrence of certain patterns of disapproved behaviour of children and adolescents . The well accepted age at present for juvenile delinquents is 16 years for boys and 18 years for girls. Juvenile delinquents are mainly classified on the basis of their behavioural patterns. They range from the incorrigible truants who keep away from school to larcenies who are involved in petty thefts and armed robberies to destruction of property , violence and sexual offences. They are also classified according to the type of violation they commit. Thus psychologists have grouped juvenile delinquents on the basis of their personality traits as mentally defective , psychotic , neurotic, situational and cultural delinquents. According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report, the trend of children committed by minors was 1.7% of total crimes in the country, and in 2006 and 2007 it increased by 1.9% and 2%, respectively.It is extremely hard to trace and keep a check on juvenile delinquency as of all the delinquencies committed by juveniles, only 2% or so come to the notice of the police and the courts. Traditionally, surveys suggest that delinquencies like theft, burglary, robbery, dacoity and other such offences are most commonly committed by juveniles.
But recent statistics reveal that juveniles have also been found actively involved in riots, murder, rape, kidnapping and abduction as well. The delinquency rates are comparatively much higher among boys than in girls. Children from broken homes or disturbed families who are either homeless or living with guardians or parents are more likely to indulge in criminal activities. Low education or illiteracy and poor economic background are major features of juvenile delinquents. But nowadays, it’s not only street children who take to crime.Even children from well-off middle and upper middle class families are turning to crime due to peer pressure and crime thrill the hunger of adolescents to be heroes among their friends, the need to portray class and style, effect of Television and Cinema have propelled the rate of juvenile delinquency in the society. The media plays a major role in creating bogus desires and images of success in the minds of the youth, for which they are willing to do anything. Moreover, unmonitored access to the internet is another reason for growth in these crimes, as many are caught swindling money from bank accounts. Children belonging to the elite class,who are either sons or daughters of politicians , businessmrn are also found involved in criminal cases , so the fear barrier no longer exists. Increased exposure combined with isolation is the root cause of these behavioural issues. Children are growing up much faster, but their conscience and ability to distinguish right and wrong isn’t developing at the same rate and they don’t feel the need to think things through.
In most cases, the cause behind juvenile delinquency is defective upbringing or no upbringing , faulty or no family interaction. Children either then suffer from inferiority complex, jealousy or mental conflict and they many a times try to seek attention desperately, which results in some kind of an offence. Lack of good role models, unhappy or angry parents and even extra- discipline and sternness also pushes children over to the edge . Often, faulty companionship too drags children into unacceptable child – behaviour. Children are not born criminals. It’s the situations and circumstances that lead them into delinquencies. Mostly all juvenile offences have deeper roots and serious situational factors are responsible for a child behaving in a particular way.Family plays a vital role in structuring the mental, emotional and behavioral patterns of a child. Broken homes, parents with no time for children, strained relations between the spouses , are all the factors which distort a child’s thought process and if not checked in time,these result in serious consequences.Other factors that are responsible for the rise in juvenile delinquency are unhealthy neighborhood, cinema , pornographic literature and bad company.
These days we have Observation Homes , Reformatory Schools, Custody Institution , Probation Homes etc to help juvenile delinquents reform themselves so that they can be gradually absorbed into mainstream of the society. Moreover, we need to pay greater attention to improve the average conditions in a society so that no child confronts such situations that force him to adopt unacceptable behavioural patterns. We need to find ways and means to pool upon the youthful energy of the children in a constructive and desired direction.