Every third person in an Indian city today is a youth. In about seven years, the median individual in India will be 29 years, very likely a city-dweller, making it the youngest country in the world. The population in the age-group of 15-34 increased from 353 million in 2001 to 430 million in 2011. Current predictions suggest a steady increase in the youth population to 464 million by 2021.
By 2020, India is set to become the world’s youngest country with 64 per cent of its population in the working age group. Involving young people in making changes to their everyday life is one main aspect of the role they are required to play in society. In this way they will improve the world for their own futures and that of their children.
But the other side of the picture is that there has been an increase in the crimes by juveniles in India. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, the data of 2013 shows that of the 43,506 crimes registered against minors under the IPC and the Special Local Law by juveniles, 28, 830 had been committed by those between the ages of 16 and 18. The number of juvenile crimes went up from 35,465 in 2012 to 42,566 in 2014.
Along with the rise in the number crimes by juveniles, the severity of crime has also increased manifold. It is obvious from the brutal gang rape case in Delhi and Mumbai in which minors committed the crime. The minor involved in the December 16 Delhi gang-rape case did the most evil act but he was sent to a reform home for three years as a punishment after found guilty. Such juveniles are generally aware of the loopholes in the system and thus intentionally get involved in crimes.
Recently Women and child development Minister Maneka Gandhi proposed to change the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 (JJA). She recommended that 16-years old child involved in heinous crimes should be treated as adult.
Generally children brought up in estranged families develop criminal tendencies. Family bonding plays an important role in the development of a child. Parents must spend quality time and keep an eye on their children. Criminal tendencies also develop because of psychological problems, alcohol or drug addiction, stress and social disorganization.
Some of the most common causes which are associated with juvenile crimes are: poverty, drug abuse, anti-social peer group, easy availability of firearms, abusive parents, single-parent child, nuclear family, family violence, excessive liberty given by parents, easy availability large amount of money from parents, personal motorized vehicles, child sexual abuse and role of media. Adolescent instability, exam fear, sudden impulse, bad company, constant exposure to aggression – verbal and physical – on television news, videos and games, works on an already heightened imaginations, making it seem ‘cool’ to the child at an age when he or she is seeking role models or patterns of behaviour to emulate. It either makes the child desensitized to violence or creates a curiosity to experiment with it.
There have been reports of juvenile offenders confessing that they indulged in violence because they wanted to see what it felt like.
The latest twist in the Guru Gram Ryan International School student Pradyuman’s murder case, the accused is again a juvenile of Class XI student. The silly intention so far he has confessed is surprisingly ‘postponing’ an exam and PTM due to exam phobia. The accused boy also has given, the fight between parents, as the reason for not able to prepare well for exams.
If that is the real intention behind this gruesome murder of an innocent class II student, it is a cause of worry for all teachers and parents so as to how much study and exam pressure we can put on students. How careful parents must be at home while having an argument between the family members. How much facilities, money and freedom parents should give to children. Parents need to keep a watch on the company out children keep. We must monitor their outside movements, the substances they use, the books they read, the sites they visit, their metal dispositions and the activities they are up to.
The parents and teachers need to introspect and evaluate our method of bringing our children up. If needed, we need to change according to the need of the hour.
Government must take preventive measures to reduce the juvenile crime rate in India. Laws should be amended to incorporate the changes coming in the society. Children are the most important asset of any nation. Give them a healthy environment to live and develop into responsible citizens.(Published on 20th November 2017, Volume XXIX, Issue 47)