Juvenile Delinquency ( Meaning , Definitions Causes and Prevention Measures )

Juvenile Delinquency is one of the most serious problems of the society , a huge cause of disorganisation.

Mr. G.C.Dutt states,
Juvenile Delinquency is rapidly becoming a serious menace in India and with the progressive industrialization of many parts of the country , this problem will soon assume the same proportion as many of the Western Countries . ”

What is Juvenile Delinquency ?

Delinquency undoubtedly is a social evil.
It is a socially unacceptable behaviour .Delinquency in general means misconduct .
When an individual deviates from the course of normal social life ,his behaviour is called delinquency.
Delinquency implies conduct that does not conform to the legal or moral standards of society; it usually applies only to acts that, if performed by an adult, would be termed criminal.

Delinquency in the view of Coleman (1981) refers to “behaviour of youths under 18 years of age which is not acceptable to society and is generally regarded as calling for some kind of admonishment, punishment or corrective actions”.

Delinquency includes all sorts of crimes committed by children.
Starting from the business and use of illegal drugs and homicide murder, it may include various types of dangerous criminal offences.

It is a crime categorized mainly based on age. The age of juvenile delinquency has not been similarly determined in all countries . It varies from country to country but is within the usual limits of 16 and 20 .

Definitions :-

Cyril Burt defines delinquency as occurring in a child ” When his antisocial tendencies appear so grave that they become the subject of official action .”

Friedlander says , ” Delinquency is a juvenile misconduct that might be dealt with under the law .”

The Second United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and Treatment of Offenders (1960) states , ” By juvenile Delinquency should be understood the commission of an act which , if committed by an adult , would be considered a crime .”

C.B Mamoria writes , ” The phrase ‘ juvenile delinquency ‘ may be loosely used to cover any kind of deviant behaviour of children which violates normative rules , understanding or expectations of the social system .”

In simple words , juvenile delinquency is a type of abnormal or antisocial behaviour by a juvenile who is below an age specified by statute .

Who is a juvenile delinquent ?

Juvenile delinquents are minors, usually defined as being between the ages of 10 and 18, who have committed some act that violates the law. Read on to learn about different types of delinquent acts as well as how to detect and prevent juvenile delinquency.
Deliquescent acts may include running away from home , spending time idly beyond limits , visiting gambling centers , committing sexual offences etc.

Offence Committed :-

Offenses committed by juveniles aren’t called “crimes” as they are for adults.
Rather, crimes committed by minors are called “delinquent acts.”
Instead of a trial, the juvenile has an “adjudication,” in which they receive a “disposition” and a sentence.

Juvenile proceedings differ from adult proceedings in a number of other ways as well.

Delinquent acts generally fall into two categories.

The first type of delinquent act is one that would be considered a crime had an adult committed it. For particularly serious crimes, some jurisdictions will even try children as adults. When children are tried as juveniles, on the other hand, parents are often required to pay the court costs for the child.

The second type of delinquent act is one that wouldn’t normally be a crime had an adult performed it. These are typically known as “status” offenses since it’s considered an offense because of the person’s age. The most common examples of status offenses are staying out past curfew, alcohol possession or consumption, and truancy, which is the continued failure to attend school.

Causes of Juvenile delinquency :-

There’s no single cause or simple reason for the development of delinquent behaviour .
Causes can be external factors including social elements or internal factors including physical and psychological Causes.

In the book , “ Approach and Concept of Criminology “ , the causes of Juvenile delinquency may be classified under two major factors
• Social Factors
• Personality Factors

1) Social Factors includes :

• Family:-
The major situations in the family that cause many factors that may lead to juvenile delinquency .
Situations such as a broken house , attitude of parents , conduct of parents etc.

A study of juvenile delinquency has revealed that the greatest number of delinquents come from broken families . A broken family ,as the term indicates home where all ties are broken ,where there’s no interaction or family love to make one feel like they belong .
Interaction in home is a very important means for teaching the child socialisation .
Lack of parents’ affection , security , absence of loving mother or father etc. has a huge contribution in factors in spreading juvenile delinquency.

• Poverty :-

Crime and poverty are intimately related. Study conducted by Shaw , McKay and Elliot revealed that among juvenile delinquents a majority belonged to families with a high poverty ratio .
According to Bonger and Fornasiri , poverty acts as an incentive to crime .

Poverty compels the children to consciously or unconsciously join hands with gangsters and become delinquents.
Poverty leads to family quarrels and dissensions , inadequate education , lack of affection from parents , necessity of basic life products etc. which are more active factors that lead to juvenile delinquency behaviour .

• Delinquency Areas :-

The delinquents come mostly from the areas that are underground , crime dominated , liquor shops , motels and clubs etc. Such a neighborhood places a high influence upon a child .

• Bad Company :-

Charles Shaw said ,” delinquency is a product of community forces ” .

As a child grows older he goes into the neighborhood and becomes a member of the peer group . If by chance he joined the group or the gang that fosters delinquent attitudes he is likely to become a delinquent.
In slum areas peculiar social groups called gangs are found . These gangs are found to be associated with crime in all aspects like delinquency , rioting , corrupt politics , etc.

According to famous criminologist Edwin H. Sutherland , criminal behaviour is acquired through interactions with others .
Hence , bad companionship leads to juvenile delinquency behaviour.

• School Dissatisfaction :-
Some students get dissatisfied with school life and such dissatisfaction makes them regularly absentee , wandering around in the streets forming gangs if their own , gambling , eve teasing , pickpocketing , smoking , drugs etc. leads them on .

2) Personality Factors

Personality factors are mainly factors related to mental deficiency and emotional disturbances .

• Mental Deficiency

It has been observed that a good number of delinquents are mentally deficient .
Some Psychiatrists and neurologists believe that the psychopathic personality is a cause of crime .
According to Tappan , psychopathic children are very crude , obstinate , suspicious , self centered , lonely , revengeful , hyper sexual , etc .
Such persons are devoid of repentance over their own crude doing and the pain and suffering of others.

Emotionally/ Psychological Problems of the Individual :-

Emotional instability is one of the most common causes of crime .
A child’s personality is rendered unbalanced through lack of love and affection, emotional insecurity , strict discipline , feeling of insufficiency and inferiority, such factors that inspire the mind of the child to criminal behavior.

From a psychological point of view , “Delinquency is a rebellion and an expression of aggression which is aimed at destroying , breaking down or changing the environment .”
This rebellion is mostly against the social conditions which deny the individual his basic rights and the satisfaction of his fundamental needs . Thus delinquents are not born but they become so due to social circumstances and personal deficiencies .

The delinquent individual who is governed by the “pleasure principle “ wants to get immediate pleasure and immediate satisfaction for his needs and so they become a victim to his own impulses.

Remedies For Juvenile Delinquency

It is said , “ a delinquent child today may turn out to be a chronic criminal tomorrow “.
Discussions have been made at national and international level by scholars to seek out effective remedies for this problem .

The three most suggested methods are
• Preventive measures
• Rehabilitative or curative measures.
• Legislative Measures

1) Preventive Measures

• Giving proper training to the members and staff of all organisations concerned with delinquency control .

• Establishing child guidance clinics to give appropriate treatment to the disturbed and maladjusted children.

• Educating the family so as to help the parents to realise the importance of giving proper attention to the needs of their young children .

• Establishing wholesome recreational agencies to prevent young children from becoming law abiding .

• Improving the social environment – slum areas , busy market places , gambling centers etc .

• Spotting potential delinquents by predictive tests in schools or society and giving treatment to such cases.

• The problem of beggary and poverty are to be removed or controlled and the general economic standards of the people must be increased to prevent children from becoming delinquents due to economic exigencies.

2) Rehabilitation or Curative Measures

The main purpose of the method of rehabilitation is not to punish or to treat them mentally disabled but the intention is to help the delinquent children to get proper guidance and training so that they don’t become victims of their own impulses and lead a normal life .

Some institutions to rehabilitate Juvenile Delinquents :-

Juvenile Courts :- Juvenile Courts are established in order to treat Juvenile delinquents and adult criminals separately. There are currently 39 Juvenile Courts in India .
This court is different from the normal civil courts . Juvenile delinquents cannot be chained or produced to courts by police , no advocate arrangements are made for plead .
The intention behind this treatment is to create positive feelings in the minds of juveniles .

• Remand Homes :- When a child is arrested under the Act ,he is produced before the magistrate within 24 hours and kept in Remand Homes till the case is investigated.
The child is kept until the final disposal of the case .. Sometimes persons convicted are sent to Remand Homes for a few days and released later .

Certified School :- Certified Schools are established to give some general education and technical training to children . Children are sent for long term treatment and voluntary bodies or local authorities with financial assistance of the government and the public .
There are two types of schools :-
• Junior School for under 12
• Seniors Schools for under 16

The children are confined here for about 2 to 3 years .
After the release they are put under the charge of a Welfare or Probation officer who watches their activities .

Auxiliary Homes :- The auxiliary homes are attached to Certified Schools just like remand homes are to juvenile courts . Here the convicted delinquents are kept for some time and studied by a social worker and sent later to certified school on the basis of their attitude and behaviour.

Reformatory Schools :- In states where there are no Children Acts , Reformatory Schools are established . They are meant for the education and vocational training of delinquent children. The young convicted offenders below 15 years are detained here for 3to 7 years . The delinquents are removed from bad environments through these schools .

Borstal Institutions :- Under Borstal Institutions special treatment is provided for adolescent offenders between the ages of 15 to 21 years . Offenders are sent to Borstal Institutions for rehabilitation rather than kept under imprisonment . The term of Borstal Institutions are 2 to 3 year but may exceed in any serious case . Separate arrangements are made for offenders , training , physical and education are given to prevent them from committing offences again .

Fit persons Institutions and Uncared Children Institutions :- These two non government institutions managed by private bodies and give refuge and protection to destitutes , neglected children and children in pre – delinquent stage .

3) .
Legislative Measures :-

Various legislations have been made in India from time to time to deal with juvenile delinquency .
Some acts are :-

• Apprentices Act of 1850
• Reformatory Schools Act 1897
• Children Acts
• Juvenile Smoking Acts
• Suppression of Immoral Traffic Acts .
• Probation of Offenders Act
• Borstal Schools Act for Adolescents.
• Provision in the Criminal Procedure Code ( under section 399 of ICPC )

A grave problem such as juvenile delinquency cannot be solved by means of legislation , government or private institutions efforts alone . The public attitude towards juvenile delinquents must also change to make them feel accepted and initiate their treatment as a cure not abnormality .
A juvenile delinquent is a product of unwholesome environmental factors hence in order to change his attitude he needs to be supported emotionally , mentally and physically by all .

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