Children are just like flowers, which need to be given a chance to blossom. Parents, guardians, and society as a whole have the duty to handle them with care. Alongside, providing ample opportunity for growth in a healthy environment would make them responsible citizens of the country. Upbringing children in peaceful surroundings makes them physically fit, mentally alert and morally virtuous.
A spiraling social problem
Children are expected to be obedient, respectful and have an inkling of values and obligations towards family and society. The atmosphere at home should be positive for children to nurture them properly. Mother’s lap is the primary school for all children. In the beginning, keeping juveniles away from the wrong company is the duty of parents and guardians. Teens who get a healthy environment in their surroundings always think positive. Negativity doesn’t cloud their mind to think about criminal behaviour or deflect their mind towards any sort of crime.
Juveniles turn crime-prone
Unfortunately, the deterioration in society and family dynamics is changing the overall environment and the mindset of our children today. Delinquency or juvenile crime has been increasing at an alarming rate in recent times. Current records prove that juveniles in India are involved in harsh crimes like murder, gang rape, robbery, snatchings and so on. Such criminal acts by children have shocked the entire nation. Does a question then arise as to what leads teenagers to criminal activities?
Heinous crime records
Who has not heard of the notorious Nirbhaya gang-rape case of Delhi in December 2012? The active involvement and brutality of a juvenile had shocked the collective conscience of the nation at that time. But that incident was not the only one. The picture that emerges in subsequent years is no different. In December 2017, a 16-year-old boy in Noida in Delhi NCR stabbed his mother and sister to death. The boy was a weak student academically, so his mother always scolded and beat him for his poor performance. On the day of the incident too, his mother scolded him over neglecting studies. And the result was deadly. In a 2018 case of Yamunanagar, Haryana, an 18-year-old student brutally killed the principal, which sank the entire nation in grief.
In another horrific case a couple of years ago, an 8-year-old class 2 student Pradyuman Thakur was killed by a 16-year-old class 11 student of Ryan International School at Gurugram. As per reports in the media, it emerged that the killer wanted an excuse to postpone the exams! And a few days ago, a 12-year-old boy murdered his tuition teacher following an argument between his teacher and mother in suburban Govandi in Mumbai! The boy stabbed his teacher Ayesha several times until she fell on the ground and became unconscious. Neighbours rushed her to the hospital but she was declared dead on arrival.
These cases just go to show how crimes committed by children, which are serious in nature, are going up all across the country.
Several factors responsible
By birth no one is criminal, it’s the circumstances that make teens commit minor crimes first, and serious crimes later. Gradually poverty, drug abuse, anti-social peer group, abusive parents, broken homes and so on turn the same teenagers into a thorn in the flesh for the entire nation.
Teenagers in India have great aspirations, which cannot be fulfilled without money. Latest gadgets like smartphones and gaming devices become must-haves for many. Parents, already grappling with economic woes, and the rising cost of education can ill afford the additional expenses of their children. Which leads to juveniles choosing the wrong path, sometimes culminating in criminal activities.
Violence and frequent quarrel between parents at home also make the teenagers depressed, and they imbibe the anger from parents or elder siblings. To a certain extent, social evils like ageism, sexism, racism and child labour also put extra pressure on juveniles. They look to improve their social status by hook or by crook, which acts as a trigger for them to become crime-prone.
As a society, we cannot look away any longer. Hiding their crime-prone behaviour would be more harmful in the long run. How to overcome this situation is important because it is now a national problem. Everyone has to come on the same platform and try to solve this core issue to bring our children back on the correct path.
Increase in crime, an alarming sign
Juvenile crime has gone up 47%, from 22,740 cases in 2010 to 33,526 cases in 2014, according to data released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). National capital Delhi was the hotspot with 2,368 crimes reported to be committed by juveniles in 2016. NCRB data shows that only 3.5% of juveniles arrested for different crimes in 2016 were homeless. It proves children of well off families are also not behind in committing crimes. In fact, NCRB data of 2016 showed that overall 6,645 cases of heinous crimes were committed by teenagers in 19 metropolitan cities alone.
A first step would be for the government to support those families that have poor economic status. Poverty is a major reason that provokes teens to go for a crime. Improvement in financial status may be helpful to lessen crime among juveniles. In addition, universal education among children is absolutely necessary to eradicate crime among teens. However, only passing legislation is not enough. Society has to ensure that every family sends its children to school, rather than making them work at home or outside, or simply neglecting them. Racial or religious differences also make adolescents aggressive, and they might look forward to taking revenge from society for their unequal treatment. Such evils have to be nipped in the bud. Increasing drug use and easy access to narcotics also have to be curbed among teens.
A good family atmosphere and proper counselling are needed at all stages for children belonging to vulnerable social groups. But education is the mother of all tools to eliminate crime among teenagers.