Juvenile Crimes in India: A concern to the future of the Nation

Children’s' acts cannot be blamed completely on them. For two reasons, one, their cognitive thinking is not fully matured and two, their circumstances and environment contribute a lot to their personality. On the same basis, is it fair to blame Juveniles for their crime and be tried in court like adults? and if not, is the same applicable for heinous crimes like the Nirbhaya case? These questions have to be answered with context to law and public policy. This article explores the same.

Juvenile Crimes- Breaking News

Juvenile crimes in India is a burning problem. People living in rural areas often face a lack of employment opportunities in their rural settings. Due to such reasons, they migrate from rural to urban areas in search of different earning sources. Due to their illiteracy, they are only able to get themselves employed in jobs which demands physical labour and they are required to work continuously for 8-12 hours every day. In such a scenario their children are neglected as they spend very little time with their children due to the tiring nature of their jobs. These young children are deprived of proper parental guidance and due to the meager financial conditions of their families, they are also devoid of proper formal education and hence increasing juvenile crimes in India. In the absence of any kind of guidance and in the influence of various antisocial elements which are often found in the neighborhood of these workers the children are easily misguided and start the journey of their adolescence on a darker and uncertain path.

Juvenile Defined

The word ‘Juvenile’ has been derived from the Latin term ‘juvenis’ meaning thereby Young.

The term ‘Juvenile justice’ was used for the first time by the legislature by the state of Illinois, USA, in 1899, while passing the Juvenile Court Act. The approach underlying this law was that juvenile offenders should not be meted out the same punitive and retaliatory treatment as adults but rather given individual attention for their own protection as well as that of the society.

In India, The Apprentices Act, 1850 is chronologically the first law meant to deal with children in distress who are to be trained for trade and industry. Even the penal laws such as the Indian Penal Code, 1860 exempts children under the age of seven years from criminal responsibility[1]. The English idea of providing separate treatment for juvenile offenders was passed on to India in the last quarter of the nineteenth century.

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Juvenile Crime is a term denoting various offences committed by children or youths under the age of 18. Such acts are sometimes referred to as juvenile delinquency. Delinquency has always been considered as a social problem over and above the fact that it is a legal problem. In India according to the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015, juveniles who are 16 years or older are to be tried as adults for heinous offences like rape and murder. Heinous offences are those which are punishable with imprisonment of seven years or more. It is also stated that the decision to try a juvenile 16 years or older as an adult will be taken by the Juvenile Justice Board, which will have a judicial magistrate and two social workers as members. If the board decides against it, the juvenile will be sent for rehabilitation.

Conclusion

Children are considered to be gifts from God and our greatest personal as well as national assets. Children are expected to be obedient, respectful and have virtues and good quality in them. However, due to various reasons, a certain percentage of children do not follow the settled social and legal dictum. Such children are more often than not involved in criminal behavior which is known as juvenile crime Juvenile crime does not only affect the individuals who commit the crime; it also affects the victim of the crime. This also affects the juvenile in their adult lives as the crime can be on their record as long as they live. Ninety percent of the juveniles also come from families that earn an annual income of less than Rs 1 lakh, more than half of these hail from households that earn just Rs 25,000 annually. The majority of cases registered in 2014 against juvenile offenders were under the crime head ‘theft’ (20%). People are migrating from rural areas to urban for earning more and making a proper livelihood. But the future of their children is easily ruined if in the lights of cities they are not guided properly.

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[1] Section 82, Indian Penal Code, 1860.

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