Juvenile delinquency is a global issue which is a serious issue of concern. There is no exception in case of juvenile delinquents' presence either in developed nations, developing or under developed nations. This is a major issue of social concern which affects the very basis of our society. Social problems that exist in our society like broken families, illiteracy, unemployment, alcoholism leads to emergence ofJuvenile delinquency. These children are future citizens of the country thus it becomes very important to reform them so that they become valuable citizens. These children are either homeless, runaway ana- have no one to take care of. Thus it is very important to intervene with them so as to bring them up as good citizens.
Juvenile Delinquency is a problem our modern society is facing and it is prevalent in almost all the countries. Developed nations like USA also are no exception from this problem. Because of the Industrialisation and Urbanisation the problem of Juvenile Delinquency has assumed serious proportions in the west as well as in the developing countries. If this problem is unchecked it may rotten the socio-psychological roots of our society.
Who is a Juvenile Delinquent
Juvenile delinquents are persons in conflict with law and have not completed 18 years of age. Juvenile Delinquents who are below the age of 18 are kept in Observation Homes. In these Observation Homes these children encounter with lot of problems and difficulties. The much needed love and care is not available for the children staying at Observation Homes where their psycho social well being is at stake. It becomes increasingly important to concentrate on them because they are the future citizens of our nation. Shaping them and moulding their personality at the right age is important to build a healthy generation next. We talk and do a lot for children pursuing main stream education and we neglect these deprived children who are victims of poverty, deprivation and environment.
Causes of Juvenile Delinquency
Young people who are at risk of becoming delinquent often live in difficult circumstances. Children become delinquents due to various reasons such as parental alcoholism, poverty, breakdown of the family, overcrowding, abusive conditions in the home, the growing HIV / AIDS scourge, or the death of parents during armed conflicts. The number of children in especially difficult circumstances globally is estimated to have increased from 80 million to 150 million between 1992 and 2000.
Juvenile delinquency is driven by the negative consequences of social and economic development, in particular economic crisis, political instability, and the weakening of major institutions (including the State, systems of public education and public assistance, and the family). Socio-economic instability is often linked to persistent unemployment and low incomes among the young, which can increase the likelihood of their involvement in criminal activity.
Juvenile Delinquency refers to anti-social or illegal behaviour by children or adolescents. A juvenile delinquent is one who repeatedly commits crime. Juvenile Delinquency can cover anything from small crime to very serious crimes like theft and murder. When a child or anyone under the age of eighteen years commits a crime, most frequently they are brought to trial and sentenced through a court system separate from that which legally enquires and initiates trials for adults. In other words, prisons specifically designed for children who commit serious crimes are known as observation homes.
Delinquent acts by Juveniles:
It is certainly the cases that children who are neglected are abused or impoverished are statistically more likely to fall into delinquent patterns. Few children consistently participate in problematic behaviours that negatively affect their family, academic, social and personal functioning.
Juvenile Delinquency also includes status offences that are illegal not only for juveniles, examples being runaway and truancy. In India, a juvenile can be adjudicated as a delinquent for such status offences as waywardness, incorrigibility and habitual disobedience (Chakreborty, 2002).
In USA, juvenile delinquency among girls is an alarming fact. In USA, from 1995 through 2005, delinquency caseloads for girls in juvenile justice courts nationwide increased 15 percent while boys' caseloads decreased by 12 percent. Also, from 1995 through 2005, the number of girls' cases nationwide involving detention increased 49 percent compared to a 7 percent increase for boys. More recently, in 2007, 29 percent of juvenile arrests about 641,000 arrests involved girls, who accounted for 17 percent of juvenile violent crime arrests and 35 percent of juvenile property crime arrests. Further, in a 2007 survey of United States conducted by the Federal Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice, 22 states listed girls' delinquency as an issue affecting their states' juvenile justice systems.
Status of Juvenile Delinquency in India:
State-wise Distribution of Juvenile Delinquency
The highest number of juvenile delinquency cases u?der Special and Local Laws for the year 2009 was reported from Tamil Nadu (1,470) which accounted for 34.0% of total juvenile crimes under SLL followed by Madhya Pradesh (987), (22.8%) and Gujarat (498), (11.5%). These three States taken together have accounted for 68.4% of total juvenile delinquency cases under SLL reported in the country. Out of 223 cases reported in the country under 'Arms Act' involving juveniles, 25.1 % cases were reported from Madhya Pradesh (56). Madhya Pradesh accounted for 51.3% (590 out of 1,149) cases reported under 'Gambling Act'. Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra contributed 40.2% (238), 38.0% (225) and 21.8% (129) of the 398 cases reported under 'Prohibition Act'. 7 out of 18 cases under 'Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act' were reported from Tamil Nadu whereas 11 out of 14 cases reported under 'Registration of Foreigners Act' were reported from West Bengal and 32 out of 44 cases registered under 'Dowry Prohibition Act' were reported from Madhya Pradesh. Six out of 21 cases under 'Scheduled Castes / Scheduled Tribes Prevention of Atrocities) Act' were registered in Haryana and the four cases each under 'Forest Act' were registered in Himachal Pradesh and Jharkhand.
There has been recent spurt in the crimes by juveniles in India. While on one hand the widening rich-poor divide in urban areas and loss of innocence have been pushing minors from poor sections of society into the world of crime, the children from well-to -families are also increasingly stepping in the world of crime. The main factors are peer pressure, lavish lifestyles, too much freedom from the parents and even simple curiosity are leading to these dangerous trends among the youngsters in India.
In 2008 crimes by juveniles across India increased by about 9.2%over the previous year. The figure in 2007 was 8.4% more than in 2006.According to the police sources, the share of crimes committed by minors to the total crimes has increased not only in the cities but in the country as a whole. The crimes committed by minors were 1.7% of the total crimes in the country in 2005 .It increased to 1.9% and 2% in 2006 and 2007 respectively.
There are increasing cases of juveniles involved in conflict with the law. They are found largely involved in thefts; pick pocketing and burglaries. They are now forming even their own gangs.
Place of reformation of Juvenile delinquents:
Observation Home facilitate good changes in the Juvenile Delinquents so that they are guided properly. Thus it becomes necessary to know about the problems and difficulties faced by the inmates of the Observation Home.
Thus it is the responsibility of every citizen to take care of the future citizens of our nation. Government intervention should be very effective that their reformation and rehabilitation should change the lives of the juvenile delinquents. The interventions with the juvenile delinquents should transform them into a enlightened and energetic citizens. This can be achieved through the public and private partnerships so that private partners can help in training them and providing employment to them. Hope we build a very strong India having concern for every citizen of our nation.
Assistant Professor, Department of Social Work, Bharathiar University, Coimbatore-641046 Tamil Nadu.