Delinquency has always been considered a social problem beyond the fact of being a legal problem. It is also a psychological problem.Therefore,to avoid this social evil, one has to approach the complex problem of delinquency from the psychological,social and family angles.
Although the laws regarding juvenile delinquency have been formed for a long time, they are also modified from time to time.Today,in all the progressive and civilized countries of the world,the laws regarding juvenile delinquents have been changed.
Special courts with specially trained magistrates are established for the prosecution of criminals. Today delinquency is being considered as misconduct, a social nuisance rather than a crime.Thus, in all states, the Children's Law (1944) required the custody, control and punishment of minor offenders.
It also provides for the establishment of reformatory schools for them. But the revised Bombay Children's Act of 1948 provided not only for custody and control, but also for the treatment and rehabilitation of juvenile offenders.
Who is a Juvenile?
According to Section 2(k) of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000, a "Minor" or "Child" is defined as a person who has not attained the age of 18 years. A minor is a young person who has not reached a specific age as prescribed by the law of a country and does not resemble a mature person who can be held legally responsible for their criminal activities.
Meaning of Juvenile Delinquency
The crime committed by children and adolescents under 18 years of age is called delinquency. The upper age limit and also the meaning of delinquency varies from country to country. But it is always under 18, which is the legal age for delinquency.
In India, anyone between the ages of 7 and 18 who violates the provisions of the Children's Acts, the IPC and the CPO will be considered a criminal.People over this age are considered Delinquents.
In the case of Gopinath Ghosh v. State of West Bengal The accused had indicated that his age was well above the prescribed age limit for being a child. However, in this case, the court not only allowed the juvenile status to be raised for the first time, but also referred the matter to the session judge to determine the defendant's age. In approving this approach, the Supreme Court in Rajinder Chandra v State of Chhattisgarh, further established that the standard of proof for age determination is the degree of probability and not proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
Juvenile delinquency is defined in the Pennsylvania Juvenile Court Act as “A delinquent child is one who has violated any law of the commonwealth ordinance of the city, a child who by reason of disobedience or habitual disobedience is not controlled by his or her parents. parents, guardians, custodian or legal representative, a child who is habitually absent from school or home, or a child who habitually behaves in such a way as to injure or endanger the morals or health of himself or others”.
Delinquency in the opinion of Coleman (1981) refers to the “behavior of young people under 18 years of age that is not acceptable to society and is generally considered to require some type of reprimand, punishment or corrective action”.
Delinquency includes all kinds of crimes committed by children. Starting from the business and consumption of illicit drugs and manslaughter, it can include various types of dangerous criminal offenses.
Delinquency is undoubtedly a social evil. It is socially unacceptable behavior committed by boys and girls under the age of 18. Instead of punishing these criminals, they are kept in juvenile jails and correctional houses where various corrective measures are taken to change their behavior in the positive direction.
The Juvenile Justice Act 2015 aims to replace India's existing Juvenile Delinquency Act, the Juvenile Justice Act 2000, so that minors in conflict with the law, involved in heinous crimes, can be tried as adults. Juvenile here refers to those adolescents who have not yet reached the age of majority or are within the age group of 16 to 18 years.
Juvenile delinquency is not born naturally in the child but is largely present in him because of the environment in which he is raised, because of his own absurd acts or simply because of the lack of discipline and adequate education.
As Fredrick Douglass says: It is easier to build strong children than to mend broken men.Youth is considered one of the greatest assets of a country.If this population is not well prepared,the future of a country will certainly not be very bright.As a whole,we have a moral and ethical responsibility to provide all children with a healthy environment in which to learn and grow.
The most common reasons why a child goes against the law is lack of education or failures in their education that are due to an unhealthy socio-cultural environment that causes the child to become physically and mentally incapacitated as well as a citizen.Irresponsible,Fair and equivalent opportunities must be given to all young people to reduce the imbalance and guarantee social equity in the country.
Children are expected to be obedient,respectful and have good virtues.However, due to certain circumstances, some children cannot follow the established social and legal dictum.These children often engage in criminal behavior that is known as Juvenile Delinquency or Juvenile Crime.
Historical Background of Juvenile Justice System in India
Before the Juvenile Justice Act of 1986, enacted by Parliament to provide care, protection, treatment, development and rehabilitation for abandoned or delinquent minors, the Juvenile Justice Act of 1960 was in effect throughout the country. in India and thus the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000 was enacted. Later, the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 w.e.f. December 30, 2000 as the main legal framework for juvenile justice in India.
This law was further amended in 2006 and 2010. In the aftermath of the Delhi gang rape (December 16, 2012), this law came under criticism across the country due to its inability to deal with crimes involving minors. they engage in heinous crimes such as rape and murder, but cannot be prosecuted. The Juvenile Justice Bill 2014 was then passed by Parliament in December 2015 and became the Juvenile Justice Act 2015. It came into force on 15 January 2016. Under the 1986 Act, Section 2 (a) defines the term juvenile as a "boy who has not reached the age of 16 and a girl who has not reached the age of 18." Meanwhile, India has signed and ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), 1989, which treats a person as under 18 years of age.
Causes of Juvenile Delinquency
Understanding the causes of juvenile delinquency is a integral part of preventing a youth from becoming involved in inappropriate, harmful and illegal conduct.Four main risk factors can identify young people prone to criminal activities such as individuals,family,mental health and substance abuse.Often a minor is exposed to risk factors in more than one of these classifications.
Individual Risk Factors
Various factors are recognised with juvenile delinquency.A minor who does not get a proper education and who has lower intelligence is more subject to become involved in delinquent activities.There are also other risk factors which involves such as impetuous behavior, uncontrolled aggression and an inefficacy to delay gratification.In many instances,several individual Risk factors can be identified when it comes to a Juvenile such as involvement in harmful, destructive,illegal or in illicit activities etc.
Family Risk Factors
The consistent pattern of family Risk factors are connected with the development of delinquent behavior in young people.Lack of proper parental supervision,ongoing parental conflict,neglect and abuse (emotional,psychological or physical) are the factors of family Risk.Parents who demonstrate a lack of respect for the law and social norms are likely to have children who think similarly.Finally,those children who show the weakest attachment to their parents and families are precisely the same minors who engage in inappropriate activities,including delinquency conduct.
Mental Health Risk Factors
Various mental health factors have also been included in juvenile delinquency.It is to be kept in mind that diagnosis of certain kinds of mental health conditions- primarily personality disorders cannot be made in regard to the child. However,there are precursors of these conditions that can be exhibited in childhood that tend to end up being displayed through delinquent behavior.
Substance Abuse Risk Factors
Substance abuse is found in most cases of minors delinquency, Two trends are identified in relation to substance abuse and minors First,young people are using more powerful drugs today than was the case as recently as 10 years ago.Second, the age at that some minors start using drugs is younger.Children in Elementary schools are found to be using powerful illegal drugs.The use of these illegal substances or the use of legal substances illegally motivates youth to commit crimes to obtain money for drugs In addition,minors are much more likely to participate in destructive,harmful and illegal activities when using drugs and alcohol.
Juvenile delinquency shows two general types of behaviors
• Status offense
• Delinquent offense
Status offenses are not considered good for children and adolescents.Due to the age of the offender, these behaviors are prohibited.If these crimes are committed by adults, the behaviors are not illegal. Drinking or possessing alcohol, using tobacco,running away from home, being absent from school without good reason, and violating curfew are examples of status crimes.
These offenses also include incorrigible, rebellious, idle, and unruly.The juvenile justice system has devised formal labels for adolescents who are in need, depending on the jurisdiction.These include:
• CHINS (child in need of supervision)
• PINS (person in need of supervision)
• MINS (minor in need of supervision)
• FINS (family in need of supervision)
• YINS (youth in need of supervision
Delinquent offenses violate legal statutes that also apply to adults in the criminal justice system. Acts of violence are included under criminal offenses such as murder, rape, armed robbery, simple and aggravated assault, harassment, stalking, threats, child abuse, and other similar crimes. Criminal offenses include acts related to property crimes such as burglary, larceny or theft, motor vehicle theft, arson, property damage, property damage, vandalism, and others.