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Juvenile Delinquency: Treatment and Prevention | Essay | India | Law

In this essay we will discuss about Juvenile Delinquency in India. After reading this essay you will learn about:- 1. Concept of Delinquency 2. Causal Factors in Delinquency 3. Age and Sex Difference 4. Treatment 5. Prevention.

Essay on Juvenile Delinquency


Essay Contents:

  1. Essay on the Concept of Juvenile Delinquency
  2. Essay on the Causal Factors in Juvenile Delinquency
  3. Essay on the Age and Sex Difference in Juvenile Delinquency
  4. Essay on the Treatment of Juvenile Delinquency
  5. Essay on the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency

Essay # 1. Concept of Juvenile Delinquency:

Delinquency is a neglect or violation of duty. There has been a great change in the concept. The juvenile delinquent is not subject to the jurisdiction of normal courts of criminal procedure. Special juvenile courts are now established. The emphasis is on the individual who commits the crime rather than on the crime itself.

According to the Reformatory School Act of 1876, modified in 1897, a youthful offender is a boy, who has been convicted of offence, under the age of 15 years.

Delinquency is not a unique form of behaviour. There is no sharp differentiation between delinquents and non-delinquents. A hungry boy may steal food. But there is nothing anti-social in this action. It is when the boy develops a habit of stealing in all situations, that he can be labelled a delinquent. That is, there is some maladjustment in the young person.

He may do so to obtain social recognition or to obtain some thrill and excitement. It may be even to take revenge on the very strict and un-understanding parents. Thus delinquency may be looked upon as an outlet, a defensive mechanism, for the tension caused by frustration of some need.

It is clear that delinquent behaviour is not some peculiar kind of behaviour.

The Bombay Children Act of 1924, specifies in its preamble that it aims at provision-

(i) for the custody and protection of children and young persons,

(ii) for the custody, trial and punishment of youthful offenders. Thus two classes of children come under the Act, namely, the vagrant children and the children who have violated some law.

A youthful offender is one who is between seven years and sixteen years. Seven years is the age specified in the Indian Penal Code, below which the children are not deemed to have committed any crime. The Bombay Act of 1924 provides for the establishment of separate juvenile courts and certified schools and institution for the reception of youthful offenders.

A delinquent is one who is, thus, over seven and below sixteen years of age, who commits an offence that is punishable by the Indian Penal Code, who is incorrigible, ungovernable, or habitually dis­obedient and beyond the control of parents or guardians, who is habi­tually truant, who deserts his home.

A neglected child is one without proper guardianship, who is abandoned by the parents, whose parents are unfit to take care of him because of mental incapacity or moral depravity or whose parents have been imprisoned, etc. The neglected children have to be taken care of because, it is easy for them to become delinquent due to circumstances in which they live.


Essay # 2. Causal Factors in Juvenile Delinquency:

Social behaviour is, as pointed out earlier, a learnt behaviour. Consequently delinquent behaviour is also learnt behaviour.

A study of the life of the child at home, in the neighbourhood, in the school and so on will help us to understand some of the factors which may have brought about the attitudes and habits which promote vagrancy and crime. It is a phenomenon of time, place and circumstances.

In a broad way it may be stated that delinquency is a product of failure of socialisation. It is a failure in the ability of the parents to guide their children and young persons. As Recklers (1961) puts it, delinquency is maladjustment.

According to Hitopadesha, one must “love the child and pamper him till he is five years of age, put him under strict discipline between the ages of five and fifteen and must be treated as a friend after sixteen.”

The personality of a child and the young person is based on the atmosphere in the home, the parent-child and sibling relationships, the teacher-student and peer-group relationships and the type of influences to which he is subject in the neighbourhood. The infant and the child is dependent on the parents for the satisfaction of all his needs.

Since the aim is to enable the child to grow up to be an independent and self-dependent youth and adult, the aim of the parent at home and the teacher in the school is to promote a sense of self-dependence in him. It is never too early to start the self-dependence training. Another important aspect is to treat the child right from the time he starts moving about on his legs and starts expressing himself in language, that is from the third and fourth year on, as an individual, who has needs of his own and which should be respected.

The child should be enabled to understand the social rules and regulations and not merely to be obedient. As noted above, this is what Piaget speaks of as the growth from egocentricity through heteronomy to autonomy. The social rules and regulations should not only be internalized by the child but also understood.

He must know the social and psychological implication of following the rules and the penalties he may have to pay and the suffering he may inflict on others if he does not. The family, the peer group and the school help him to build up his attitudes and values which are the fundamental constituents of his personality.

As noted above, what the child needs most are the sense of security and opportunity for free self-expression. When these are lacking during the growing period, damage is bound to be done to the child’s personality, sense of responsibility and keen sense of social well-being of others.

Proper family relations are very important in the child’s upbring­ing. Studies show that in the families in which the father fails to provide an adequate model for the growing child, tend to have delinquent children. Another important causative facto- is the broken home. Here also studies show that only about one third of the boys and girls who are delinquent come from homes in which there are both the parents.

In over one-fourth of the cases the juveniles had lived only with the mother. Also in the homes in which the father or the mother has illicit sex relations outside marriage affect the character of the child. Lack of parental affection is another very important factor.

Inner tensions, hostile and destructive behaviour has been associated with a feeling of anomie, a feeling of un-relatedness because of lack of parental affection. It leads to a feeling of rootlessness and un-relatedness.

Alcoholism, brutality, anti-social attitudes, failure to provide adequate funds for the family, frequent absence from home and such other characteristics among the parents have also been found to be associated with delinquency.

Peer group also plays a very important role. Studies show that association with boys who have no interest in studies and who are eager to play in street corners lead to the formation of a delinquent sub-cultures. They give mutual support and derive group identification. They tend to indulge in escapist attitudes such as smoking, drinking, stealing, etc. They deeply resent being rejected by the society. But this only makes them cling together.

Early students of delinquency like Healy of United States, Cyril Burt of United Kingdom, emphasised that delinquent behaviour is the product of many causative factors. Personality factors as well as environmental factors within and outside the home combine together in bringing about undesirable social consequences. Delinquent be­haviour is a part of a dynamic process that can be understood only in relation to a series of experiences inside and outside the home.

According to Reckless (1961) a favourable self -image, a high level of frustration tolerance, parents who can serve as good models, well- developed ego and super-ego are significant factors in promoting a personality that can withstand the damages which may be caused by the environment. If personality factors and the environmental factors are both favourable, the chances of the child becoming a delinquent is very low. But if either or both are unfavourable, the chances are high indeed.

Of all these factors, the most important factor is the parent-child relationship factor. It is this which provides love and sense of security, through all the varying social relationships that arise as the child grows. It also needs understanding. Affection coupled with under­standing is the foundation for the growth of a sound personality, that can withstand the various stresses and strains that inevitably arise.


Essay # 3. Age and Sex Difference in Juvenile Delinquency:

One of the significant features of society in all countries and cultures is the fact that in all age groups females are less in number than males.

According to Crime in India, 1970, the juveniles apprehended in India during 1969 are as follows:

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It is clear that with increase in age, there is tremendous increase in number of juveniles apprehended. It increases more than twice bet­ween 7-12 age group and 12-16 age group and the 16-21 age group is nearly seven times the 7-12 age group and then thrice the 12-16 age group. The young persons between 16-21 are apprehended in large numbers.

But the sex difference is indeed very pronounced. While the increase from 7-12 age group to 16-21 age group among boys is more than seven times, the increase among girls is less than twice. While the girls constitute only one-seventh in 7-12 age group, they contribute only one-twenty fifth. It is clear that adolescent girls hardly indulge in crimes as compared to adolescent boys. This could be because parents are more restrictive in bringing up girls due to various risks and more permissive in bringing up boys.


Essay # 4. Treatment of Juvenile Delinquency:

As noted above, the juvenile delinquent is an ordinary child, who misbehaves largely on account of faulty parental relations, unhappy home atmosphere, undesirable companionship, unhealthy neigh­bourhood, lack of recreational facilities and so on.

So the important thing to remember is that the delinquent children and youth are those who were exposed to undesirable experiences and thus victims of circumstances. It is the duty of the society to help the child and the parents so that the child grows up to be a normal and useful citizen.

The main task is the rehabilitation of the child, not punishing him. This task needs re-education in a correctional institution.

First of all the child should be taken to a detention home or remand home, where he is looked after, until his case is studied and disposed of in the Juvenile Court. As is obvious this implies a radical change in the aims of correction. It needs a constructive outlook towards the child. The outlook is more like that of a medical man who diagnoses and prescribes the treatment, rather than like the magistrate who assesses the crime and prescribes the necessary punishment.

The child must be studied by a trained social worker in a detention home, apart from providing him with food, clothing and bed. Just as the doctor prepares a case history of the patient admitted to the hospital, the social worker must note down the details regarding the upbringing of the child, his education, the neighbourhood in which he had grown up, etc. The child is also provided with educational, vocational and recreational facilities. An ideal remand house pro­vides the inmates the necessary atmosphere and facilities for their social and personal readjustment.

Juvenile courts were established first in Madras, which passed the Children Act, 1920. The aim of the juvenile court is not to punish the child but to provide for the need of the child. Its aim is pro­tective and constructive rather than punitive. The procedure of the court should ensure that each child and his situation is considered individually and also find the inadequacies in the home environment The court takes on the role of the guardian of the child, since the parents have not been able to discharge their responsibility.

The court calls for the report of the Probation Officer on the child’s home and environmental condition. By his study of the indivi­dual case, the probation officer is able to suggest the guidance and assistance the child needs to help him to become well adjusted. The probation system thus has two aspects, namely, investigation and supervision. The investigation is the diagnostic process, and the supervision is the treatment process.

Thus the probation system rehabilitates the child, promotes respect for law and order and ulti­mately protects the community. All three are inter-related. The aim of the probation officer is to change the outlook of the child and also to change the environment in which he grows. He tries to help the parents to alter their outlook towards their responsibilities. If the child is above 14 years, he will help him to get employment.

Another important aspect of treatment is the establishment of training schools. When the child fails to make proper adjustment during probation the child is removed from the home and sent to a certified school in which there are facilities for education, vocational training and recreational facilities.

Another aspect of treatment is the child guidance clinic. In this institution there is a psychiatrist, a physician trained in handling mental disorders, clinical psychologist, and a trained social worker who studies the behaviour problem of the child and helps him to make readjustments.

The clinic will help the parents, teachers and other responsible adults to understand the needs of the child. The problem for which children are usually referred to these clinics are stealing, truancy, habit disorders, etc.


Essay # 5. Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency:

Juvenile delinquency is largely a problem that arises with indus­trialisation and urbanisation. In the villages there is the intimate face-to-face relation between the citizens. But in a city the relation becomes impersonal. Also there is the factor of anonymity. It is a familiar fact that we see a large number of boys in the market place, bus stands, railway stations, and near the cinema houses. They move about in groups in search of money and excitement.

One of the main tasks of state and society to prevent delinquency is to see that cities do not grow beyond all proportions. Secondly, the big cities should have adequate remand homes and probation officers and child guidance clinics to deal with the behaviour problems as they arise.

The second important aspect is the development of the knowledge of the needs of children among the parents, particularly in view of the fast changing social conditions, as a result of urbanisation and industrialization. Though ahimsa is looked upon as an important social value, there is a good deal of violence in the correction of children. Anger instead of love dominates the parents’ attitude to­wards children when they err. It is necessary to give courses to parents in cities about how they have to bring up children.

The mass media, particularly the cinema and the television, are very useful to enable the parents to know about the needs of their children and how to help them meet their needs. The child must have a sense of security and trust. Unfulfilled promises by the parents cannot promote trust in the child. The child must be able to speak to the parents frankly about his needs and hopes. Discipline does not mean suppression of spontaneity and freedom of expression. An authoritarian parent cannot be useful in a democratic set up.

Another important aspect of prevention is the provision of ade­quate recreational facilities at home and in the neighbourhood.

Neighbourhood recreational facilities are very important in the highly congested areas of the cities. The children of the area must have an outlet for their play and adventure. One good feature is the presenta­tion of children’s films and the provision of children’s cinema houses. Properly organised and supervised plays, particularly for the children who are dropouts from the schools and in the areas which are far away from schools is very necessary.

Another aspect is the setting up of a Juvenile Police Bureau. It is the police personnel who first come into contact with the destitute, truant and delinquent juveniles. Police personnel specially trained in handling children should patrol the delinquency areas in big cities. They should also bring to book the adult gangs which use young boys for various kinds of anti-social activities.