In ordinary terms a child roughly between the age of 7 to 16 or 18 years who is involved in some kind of a ‘status offence’ such as vagrancy, immortality, truancy and ungovernability is a juvenik delinquent. Thus we see that juvenile delinquency is not just about under-aged criminals who get involved in criminal activities. In fact, the term ‘juvenile delinquency refers to the violation of a code of conduct or a regular occurrence of certain patterns of behaviour disapproved of children and adolescents. The well accepted age at present for juvenile delinquents is 16 years for boys and 18 years for girls.
Juvenile delinquents are classified on the basis of their behavioural patterns mainly. They range from the incorrigible to truants who keep away from school to larcenies who are involved in petty thefts and armed robberies to destruction of property, violence and sexual offences. They are also classified according to the type of violation they commit. Whether it is a minor violation or major or property violation, addiction of some kind or a physical violation. Thus psychologists have grouped juvenile delinquents on the basis of their personality traits as mentally defective, psychotic, neurotic, situational and cultural delinquents.
It is extremely hard to trace and keep a check on juvenile delinquency as of all the delinquencies committed by juveniles, only 2% or so come to the notice of the police and the courts. Traditionally, surveys suggest that delinquencies like theft, burglary, robbery, dacoity and other such offences are most commonly committed by juveniles. But recent statistics reveal that juveniles have been found more actively involved in riots, murder, rape, kidnapping and abduction as well. The delinquency rates are comparatively much higher among boys than in girls. In that case, the frequency of offences committed is more during adolescence, is comparatively more in urban areas than rural. Children who are either homeless or living with guardians or parents are found more involved in delinquencies. Low education or illiteracy and poor economic background too is one of the major features of all the juvenile delinquents. Juvenile delinquency is a more lower-class phenomenon. But recently, the hunger of adolescents to be heroes among their friends, the need to portray class and style, effect of Television and Cinema etc have propelled the rate of juvenile delinquency in the society. Children belonging to the elite class, who are either sons or daughters of politicians, businessmen etc too are found involved in criminal acts.
In most cases, the root cause behind juvenile delinquency is defective upbringing or no upbringing, faulty or no family interaction. Children either then suffer from inferiority complex, jealousy or mental conflict and they many a times try to seek attention desperately which results in some or the other kind of an offence. Lack of good role models, unhappy or angry parents and even extra-discipline and sternness also pushes children over the edge. Many a times faulty companionship too drags children into unacceptable child-behaviour. Children are not born criminals. There are the situations and circumstances that many a times lead them into delinquencies. Mostly all juvenile offences have deeper roots and serious situational factors that are responsible for a child behaving in a particular way. Family plays a vital role in structuring the mental, emotional and behavioural patterns of a child. Broken homes, parents with no time for children, strained relations between the spouses, are all the factors which distort a child’s thought process and if not checked in time result in permanent effects. Other factors that are responsible for the rise injuvenlie delinquency are unhealthy neighbourhood, cinema, pornographic literature and unbridled access to internet and bad company.
These days we have observation Homes, Reformatory Schools, Custody Institutions, probation Homes etc to help the juvenile delinquents reform themselves so that they can be gradually absorbed in the mainstream of the society. Moreover, we need to pay greater attention to improve the average conditions in a society so that no such opportunities are presented to a child where he goes haywire or adopts unacceptable behavioural patterns. We need to find ways and means which pool upon the youthful energy of the children in a constructive and desired direction.