Special Articles / M. Xavier, R. Arjunan / Scientific Writing and Publishing in Social Work
Juvenile delinquency is one of the burning issues all over the world and reform initiatives are going on in many countries. Children in conflict with law are the central subject of juvenile justice systems. In this study social work practices such as alternative sanctions, diversions and rehabilitation are discussed in order to advance the social reintegration of children in trouble with the law. This study was done among children in conflict with law whose cases are pending before the juvenile justice board in Salem, Tamilnadu, India.This study is descriptive in nature. Considering the Sampling method used in this study the sample had been selected using Area sampling.
Self-reported questionnaires had been administered to explore the causes, consequences and diversity of criminal activities by juvenile delinquents. This study revealed that 73% of juveniles are incapable of maintaining their basic needs and getting proper recreation from their family. Their reformation and reintegration into society is to be placed at the top of social workers agendas to provide him/her true dignity.
Key Words: Crime, Juvenile justice, diversion and rehabilitation
Juvenile delinquency is not only a national issue but also a global phenomenon. The term juvenile delinquency was officially developed in the United States in 1899, when the first code of juvenile delinquency was enacted in Chicago, Illinois (Shoemaker, 2005). Juvenile delinquency refers to a large variety of disapproved behaviour of teenage and adolescents whom the society does not approve of, and for which some kind of punishment or corrective measure is justified in the public interest. Certain acts such as truancy, vagrancy, stealing, hijacking, kidnapping, drinking and gambling etcetera are included within the meaning of the term juvenile delinquency (Paranjape, 1998). Crimes committed by adolescents under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) increased by 8.4% from 2006 to 2007, with a reported registration of 22,865 cases in 2007 (Crime in India, 2007). But in 2010 there was a small decrease in the reported cases of crime under the IPC: 22,740 cases (Crime in India, 2010).The highest number of juveniles under SLL were apprehended in Tamil Nadu (683, 21.9%) followed by Gujarat (542, 17.4%), Chhatisgarh (514, 16.5%) and Maharashtra (353, 11.31%). These four states have accounted for 67% of total juveniles apprehended under SLL crimes (Crime in India, 2011). Tamil Nadu had the highest juvenile offenders (Crime in India, 2011) in the age group of 7-12 years (244)and 12-16 years (316).The situation of Tamilnadu points out the vulnerable conditions of children in conflict with law that need to be addressed urgently.
A ‘Juvenile’ or ‘Child’ means a person who has not reached eighteen years of age. A boy or girl under 18 years of age is a juvenile under section 2(k) of Juvenile Justice Act(JJA) 2000. Section 2(L) of JJA 2000 has defined “Juvenile in conflict with law” as a juvenile who is alleged to have committed an offence and has not completed 18 years of age as on the date of commission of such offence. Children who come into conflict with the law are considered as victims ofsocial hardship, neglect, violence and deprivation. Thus, they require specialattention, treatment, care and protection. Children are notsupposed to be held accountable for the violation of criminal law as adults are.Their cases should be handled by a separate system from the criminal justicesystem that is designed for adults.Many recruits of terrorist groups are juveniles under the age of 18, who can hardlyaccess the judicial system. The usual daily news headlines are: “Troops have killed somany terrorists today”. You will never come to know that many of them werechildren (Brett, 2002).The rationale behind this is that childrenrequire protection; they are malleable and are more likely to be rehabilitatedthan adults.The development of juvenile justice is built on the recognition that many juveniles who come into conflict with the law are victims of social hardship, violence and deprivation and that they often do not understand the consequences of the act they committed. Due to the multi-faceted nature of needs, they require separate justice system, alternative sanctions and rehabilitation.
Common causes of Juvenile delinquency
Delinquency can be caused mainly by two different factors, internal factors as well as external factors. Internal factors are one’s psychological factors. External factors are the social and economic conditions of the delinquents. In a broad way the causes of delinquency can be classified into economic, social and psychological.
Economic Causes - The cause of any crime can be summarised into three words – ‘Money, power and pleasure’. If we analyse any crime, the root cause of it will be one of the three mentioned above. Economic reason or poverty takes the top priority among the cause of delinquency. According to Aristotle crime originates from poverty and Plato has stated that the unmet need of human being is the cause of crime (cited in Sing, 1987). Cyril Burt demonstrated that “One cause of there being such a large number of poor people among all criminals that are apprehended is that being poor, they cannot escape the clutches of law and police whereas the richer elements find it comparatively easier to avoid punishment (Sharma, 1982).
Social Causes–Serious economic or political stress can lead to a breakdown of power in the social system whereby cultural norms no longer have influence over the group and individual behaviour. Conflict in the societies can generate problems like delinquency says Ramachandraraj and according to him ‘conflicts tends to produce social disorganisation, delinquency, crime and family disorganisation’ (cited in Sing, 1987). Many of the delinquents are from broken families. In such families the children do not get opportunities to channel their growth in the right direction. When it lacks in a family the child will seek it outside the family especially among the peer group and adults whom they consider models. And these supportive groups can be constructive as well as destructive. If these are destructive elements the juvenile becomes a delinquent (Sharma, 1982).
Psychological Causes– A child’s personality is rendered unbalanced through lack of love and affection, emotional insecurity, very strict discipline, feeling of insufficiency or inferiority and reaction or revolt. Such a state of mind leads a child to criminal behaviour (Sharma, 1982). Erikson looks at delinquency in a different angle and suggests that delinquent behaviour occurs because of gaps in personality development of all young people. At adolescence, youth re-experience the insecurity and diffusion of identity. Significant adults often fail to understand the infants’ need for security, the growing child’s need for acceptance and the adolescents’ need to experiment in many ways divorce oneself from adult control. As a consequence, the adult’s reaction to a young person’s behaviour may precipitate his/her choice of a negative role (Sing, 1987).
Juvenile justice system
The focus of juvenile justice systems is to reform and rehabilitate the juvenile in conflict with law, so that they also may have access to the opportunities enjoyed by normal children. This is in contrast to the perception that the society should be protected from the juvenile offenders who commit violent crimes. Rather juvenile justice systems makeefforts to address the root causes of offending behaviour and introduce measures to prevent such behaviour. Separate legal procedures dealing with juvenile offenders take full account of their age, circumstances and needs whilst the traditional criminal justice fixes attention on the offence and its punishment.The present JJA (care and protection of children), 2000, amended in 2002 and 2006, is one of the most progressive legislations in India. It covers all aspects of interaction between children and the legal system. The procedure prescribed under the JJA, 2000 governs cases concerning juveniles in conflict with the law irrespective of the offences they have committed. To avoid any doubt in this respect the JJA,2000 unequivocally states: “Section 1(4): Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force the provisions of this act shall apply to all cases involving detention, prosecution, penalty or sentence of imprisonment of Juvenile in conflict with law under such other law”. TheJJA is far-reaching in its scope and intent. The provisions within the JJA are intended to preserve the dignity and best interests of the child.
Child friendly sanctions and diversion
Alternative responses to criminal sanctions and juvenile diversions, according to UNICEF, are essential elements of a child rights-based justice system which aim to minimize negative impacts and maximum opportunities for positive inputs into children’s development (UNICEF, 2006).The Juvenile Justice System stresses the future welfare of the juvenile rather than on punishment for past misdemeanours, as reformation and rehabilitation is the main intent of the juvenile justice system. “A variety of dispositions, such as care, guidance, supervision orders, counselling, probation, foster care, education and vocational training programmes and other alternatives to institutional care shall be available to ensure that children are dealt with in a manner appropriate to their well-being and proportionate to their circumstances and the offence”, Article 40(4), CRC. A juvenile diversion program implies a counselling method instead of formal court proceedings for juvenile offenders accused of criminal offencesi.e.to divert young people, wherever possible, away from the penal systems into informal networks of control, support, and care (Smith, 2011). Diversion allows offending to be dealt with at a level that is proportionate to the seriousness of the offence with input from the children’s family, community and in many instances the victim (Graveson, 2009).The purpose of such practice is to prevent the negative effects for the juvenile offender of subsequent criminal proceedings e.g. the stigma of conviction and sentence (Ahmed, 2009).The entire focus ofjuvenile legislation is on the juvenile’s reformation and rehabilitation so that s/he also may have a chance to opportunities enjoyed by other children.
Rehabilitation of children in conflict with law
The rehabilitation and social reintegration of a child shall begin during the stay of the child in an observation home.The primary institution for the development of a child is the family. Family conditions affect him a lot, therefore suitable family conditions should be provided to a child to prevent him to becoming a juvenile delinquent.If the juvenile does not have a suitable home, rehabilitation shall be carried out alternatively by (1) adoption (2) foster care (3) sponsorship and (4)sending the children to an after care organization.The concept ‘rehabilitation’ is closely associated with the theories of justice. Child rights based juvenile justice is a key concept which aims to protect children’s survival and development and rehabilitate the juvenile offender into the community with his/her dignity and integrity. This could be actualized through the use of care, guidance, counseling, technical training, education and leisure because the offender is perceived to be down and needs treatment (Nwankwo, 2008). The content and implementation of a rehabilitation plan intends to lower risk and to enhance offender well-being (Ward &Langlands, 2009). Thus rehabilitation is providing proper family support and educational assistance to these children in conflict with law to make them less likely to engage in future criminality.
Roles of Social Workers
These children in conflict with the law are victims of social disorder, social injustice and social change. As social workers they can prevent crimes by confronting the root causes of the problems, provide individual therapeutic intervention byimproving their environmental conditions, change their behaviors by creating opportunities, reintegrate them back in to their family and community bymodifying family structures and engaging in lobby and advocacy.
According to Pitts (1990) the central irony of judicial procedure is that it brings together large numbers of juveniles who have nothing in common but crime and offers them almost limitless time and opportunity in which to discuss, boast and fantasize about it. Not surprisingly when inmates leave the observation home they find it very hard to think or talk about anything but crime. Thus it is that the experience of the juvenile may serve to recast the identity of person into that of a prisoner. It becomes clear that a new role for the social worker needs to be added: that of confronting crime, challenging juvenile delinquents to accept responsibility for their actions and to be aware of the impact of crime on victims.
In the present juvenile justice system there are no clear policies or guidelines on rehabilitation services and a model of social work intervention is lacking. The traditional punitive reaction enforces conformity to law on the basis of fear of punishment but rehabilitation creates in the offender the capacity for social participation and responsibility. Rehabilitation is not incompatible with fair punishment (Rotman, 1990).In juvenile justice boards with three members there should be a psychologist, who can treat the juvenile withpsychological methods.Individual counseling and in particular casework is to be the method that is being applied byprofessional social worker, even though conscious efforts are being made to place emphasis on both group work and community work. The fundamental value of social work with the individual is that they have an innate ability to develop into law-abiding citizens.
As staff of correctional institutions,social workers may be regarded as agents of social control; some may find this an uncomfortable image. The reality is that social workers do function in authoritative and arguably coercive roles in the area of corrections. Holding individuals accountable for their behavior has the highest likelihood of moving them toward changing future behavior. The use of authority can be effective in preventing further criminality and also has the potential to create a personal crisis for the offender that may force re- evaluation of attitudes and behavior (Roberts, 1997). Social work practitioners should acknowledge and respond to the real environmental and emotional crises that can be created by confinement. Each offender has the capacity to grow and develop to be a constructive member of the family, community and society. Social workers are responsible for their behavioral changes and thecentral component of valuing the individual is recognizing the individual in relation to their family and community.
According to Brodsky (1975) dismemberment is the removal of or departure of one or more persons from a family system of interrelationships. Short (1979) confirmed that if the juvenile justice system is to be effective, it must be both humane and should provide for the basic need to be in contact with family and loved ones. One of the aims of an efficient system is to equip the child in conflict with the law to lead a good and law-abiding life outside.Social workers should realize the important role played by families of the children in conflict with the law within the rehabilitation process. Reintegration of children in conflict with the law into communities should rightfully begin with the maintenance of family ties to facilitate smooth reentry into community of origin. Family visits and other reasonable forms of communication and contact should be established immediately upon admission to encourage the participation of juvenile’s families in the rehabilitation process.
The following flow chart depicts the different roles of social workers at various points of the rehabilitation process for children in conflict with the law.
The above diagram attempts to summarize the role of social work in the correction of the children in conflict with the law. It is very difficult to separate social work roles in the observation homes from the other roles of social workers in other fields of practice. However what becomes apparent from the research is that social workers should have the ability to play different roles at different stages of the juveniles in conflict with the law. The social worker should focus mainly on the themes identified because all the areas are largely covered by these themes and that these roles are interrelated in nature.
Methods and Materials
Protecting the human rights of juvenile offenders, including rehabilitating them into societyis one of the biggest challenges to securing a child-rights based justice system. Lack of appropriate consideration of alternative sanctions and diversion from formal legal procedures is one of the primary understandings behind the failure of proper rehabilitation for the children(Ahmed and Islam, 2010).Coming into conflict with the law in the first place and subsequently coming into contact with the formal criminal justice system is generally acknowledged to be detrimental to children’s full or optimum development (physical, social, emotional, cognitive and spiritual) (UNICEF, 2006).
In a study, UNICEF(2006) revealed that in South Asia implementation of special juvenile protection has been far from splendid. In general, insufficient emphasis has been placedon diversions, bothin legislationand in practice, on introducing alternatives to the formal justice system, or onchanging the fundamentally custodial nature of the entire juvenile justice system. As a result most children who come into conflict with the law end up deprived of their liberty either in observation homes, children’s rehabilitation centers or special homes without the touch of family.In this connection this paper identifies the role of social workers to make the juvenile justice system more rights-focused, especially from the aspects of alternatives to detention and towards diversion.
This study was done among children in conflict with thelaw in the three districts of Namakkal, Krishnagiri and Dharmapuri from the state of Tamilnadu, India. The Researcher has chosen the Descriptive Design for this study. Thus the researcher can describe the status of these children in conflict with law and the causes of their crime. Using the design, the magnitude of the crime, family problems and the root causes for their act was studied in detail. For this study 120 samples were chosen out of the 670 pending cases of the children in conflict with law in Salemjuvenile justice board by using Area sampling method by choosing 40 each from the three districts of Namakkal, Krishnagiri and Dharmapuri.
Objectives of the study
The principle objective of this study was to identify the causes and consequences of juvenile delinquency. In this study, some specific objectives have also been considered:
Results and Discussion
This study was mainly concerned with the investigation of the personal profile of the respondents and its association with their offences.
Table-1 shows that the highest concentration of the children in conflict with law are between the age of 16 and 18 years 65.83% and the lowest delinquent juveniles are in the 10-12 years 5.83%. So we see that most of the delinquent juveniles are age between 16-18 years.
Table-2 shows that that the majority of the children in conflict with the law have family members between 3-4 and 5-6 in numbers which are 34.17% and 35% respectively. Since the number of children the family has is more there is little attention and are unable to get their basic needs. Because of their poverty, most of the juveniles were not able to fulfill their basic needs. The lack of basic needs led them to involve in various anti-social activities.
Table-3 shows that the highest concentrations of the children in conflict with the law have family incomes below 3000 which is40.83% and the lowest number of children’s family income is above 5000 which is 26.67%. Because of their low family income, their family remains in poverty and that leads them to be involved in many anti-social activities to fulfill their essential basic needs. At the same time criminal activities cannot be justified with their poor economic back ground. Cyril Burst remarks, “If the majority of the delinquents are needy, the majority of the needy do not become delinquents” (cited in Sing, 1987). Thus the role of the social worker is needed to provide them with social support and also instill discipline in their life.
Table 4 shows that of the total number of cases more than 45 percent of the cases are related to property offences (i.e., theft – 20%; robbery – 10.83%, burglary – 14.17%). This is because of their poor economic strata and the larger family members depending on the small income.
Table 5 presents the details regarding the year of registration of case and the number of pending cases. Of the total 120 pending cases analyzed for the present study, 26 cases have been pending for more than 10 years and 94 cases have been pending for more than five years. The main reason is that the family is not able to take up the case and conduct the trial as it involves financial strain. Such long-pending cases violate the basic rights of the children and the social workers have an important role to play in providing free legal assistance and to speed up their rehabilitation process.
Juvenile delinquency is a major obstacle for the national development as these children are the future of the nation. In this study the causes of juvenile delinquency and the role of social workershas been explored. For juvenile delinquency, various factors play an important role. From this study, 66% delinquents are 16 to 18 years. So, the delinquent’s tendencies are higher between 16 and 18 year’s juveniles. A respondents living situation fully depends on the respondent’s family income level. The study revealed that the size of the family is three to six members which is 70% but their monthly income is 1000 to 5000 which is 72% of the respondents. Poverty is one of the important causes of juvenile delinquency and because of their poverty; most of the juveniles were not able to fulfill their basic needs, which is so demanding for any one. The lack of basic needs led them to involve in various properties related offences which are 45% of the cases in this study. The duration of the cases is also because the poor cannot employ a lawyer to proceed with the trial on behalf of their case and also they lack knowledge and skills as they are illiterate and ignorant.
The general aim of social work is basically to rehabilitate rather than to punish. To help clients to understand themselves, their relationships with others and what is expected of them as members of the society in which they live. The goal is to utilize the skills and knowledge of the profession in a corrective manner, to rehabilitate individuals, to help them to help themselves so that they can return to and become part of society, and to guide them toward becoming comfortable with themselves and their associates.
These findings have demonstrated that juveniles who have been charged with various offences and who have been in conflict with law are from poor economic strata. A majority of the cases are related to property offences and their cases are pending because they cannot employ advocates to defend their position. There is a need to have social workers to co-ordinate legal aid lawyers and the juvenile aid police to speed up the process and to produce the witnesses.
Social workers can provide two types of services: supportive services within the observation homes and connections to resources in the community. Social workers need to be engaged in preparing the individual care plan for the children in conflict with law. Such care plans should be prepared based on interactions with the probation officer, with the juvenile and his/her family where possible (Rule 15(2) of the juvenile justice rules, 2007).
Family reunification is an important step in the process of rehabilitation and needs to be addressed as a specialized field. It is important in guiding the offender towards community reintegration and crime prevention. Re-integration of the juvenile into communities should begin with maintenance of family ties to enhance the smooth re- entry into community of origin. Family visits by the social worker should be established immediately upon admission to encourage the participation of the children’s families in the rehabilitation process.
Social workers should assist the families and the juveniles with support services such as legal counseling, health services, physical and psychological recovery services and other services necessary for the child’s reintegration. Children in conflict with the law should receive assistance from the social workers commencing the initial report and continuing until these services are no longer required. A model for practice organized systematically, is necessary to guide social workers employed in a correctional setting. This model for practice should express an individual practitioner’s ability to practice and give more systematic direction to work with specific clients.
Social workers in the Department of Correctional Services need to receive specialized training to work with juvenile. That is social workers should obtain a general orientation to practice in a criminal justice or correctional Setting. The academic courses offered by Universities need to take the specialized nature of the correctional field into account in curriculum design.As a member of a team a social worker pursues the social process of service delivery, that is he strives to ensure that the juvenile current behaviours is kept within acceptable limits at the same time that his general life adjustment is modified.
Juvenile delinquency is one of the most important social problems in India. This problem is increasing day by day. Because of the poverty, family conflict, industrialization, slum problem, differential association, lack of basic needs, lack of proper recreation etc. the juvenile delinquency are increasing in an alarming rate. As a result, juveniles are involved in various criminal activities. A large number of juveniles are deprivedof many facilities and proper environments that are necessary for their mental development. Many of them are deprived from proper education. As a result, juveniles are involved in drug addiction, murder, children kidnapping, stealing, pick pocketing, bombing, keeping arms, and involving in criminal or anti-social activities. But for this brutal situation the juveniles are not only to be blamed as blamealso falls on our social structures. A large number of families are not able to meet their children’s basic needs. For this reason, these children concentrated on immoral and illegal sources tomeet their needs. As a result they choose the illegal way and are then involved in many criminal activities.
Currently the juvenile justice system is more punitive and retributive than restorative and rehabilitative which is much in contrast with the purpose of a juvenile justice system. The juvenile justice system is suffering from many gaps such as, the non-existence of a national action plan for juvenile justice, diversionary and alternative sentencing provisions, delinquency prevention and reintegration program of the child. Most of the children who come into conflict with the law end up deprived of their basic rights especially the basic ten rights namely the right to be informed, right to be treated with dignity, right to express views and concerns, right to be protected from discrimination, right to assistance, right to privacy, right to be protected from justice process hardships, right to safety and security, right to reparation and right to special preventive measures for those who are vulnerable to repeat victimization and offending. The role of social workers is important in preventing children from entering into the formal justice mechanism and to make the present juvenile justice system more rights-based and child focused. Thispresent study revealed the lack of trained social workers. Therefore, the handling of cases of children is often not as per their best interests and not as per the letter and spirit of the international binding and non-binding instruments to which India has shown its commitment. The social workers must involve gradual application of the set of un-codified social norms, moral values, cultural practices and beliefs, community based services and other diversionary programs as one of the most important elements to socially rehabilitate the children in conflict with the law.
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