Juvenile delinquency is the term used to describe the criminal acts of the
criminal offenders who are not major under 18. Delinquency rate in India is
much higher among boys than among girls and it tends to be, the prime attribute
for delinquency. The educational background of the delinquents along with the
family background and their economic status which affects the juveniles or which
results in the crime among juveniles.
The present scenario leads to the
conclusion that the low income of the family, family background (nuclear or
joint or homeless), lack of parental supervision on their children is the main
cause which is leading to the rise in this trend of delinquency. Majority of the
crime is committed by those who are in the age group of 16-18 years because of
the negative influence of the peer groups or the surroundings.
surroundings, neglect of basic needs, bad company and other abuses and
temptations would spoil the child and likely to turn him a delinquent. Juvenile
delinquency has a very extensive meaning acts such as begging, drinking,
gambling, pilfering etc which vicious persons very often commit are also
included within the term juvenile delinquency.
Juvenile delinquency has become a
global phenomenon in modern times. Despite intensive rehabilitative measures and
special procedure for tackling the problem of juvenile, there is a growing
tendency among youngster to be arrogant, violent and disobedient to law with the
result there has been considerable rise in the incidence of juvenile
Juvenile delinquency in India
As per the international norms, and also under the juvenile Justice System in
India, a minor or a child cannot be tried in the same manner as an adult. A
child is treated as doli incapax, with no mens rea- he/ she is not capable of
understanding consequences of his/ her actions.
Keeping this logic in mind, children are dealt under juvenile justice system,
and not under the adult criminal justice system. They can never be given
imprisonment or death penalty.
However, juvenile delinquency has been increasing in capital city Delhi and
other places in India at an alarming rate.
The involvement of the juveniles in
serious offences like murder, attempt to murder, kidnapping and abduction has
raised concerns in the nation. After the December 2012 Gang rape in Delhi (or Nirbhaya case, as it was commonly called), many debates and discussions pointed
to the softer approach of Juvenile Justice System to serious offences. It has
been found that the youngsters can be as brutal as the adults, which forced the
people to reanalyze the definition and approach to juvenile delinquents in
India. Due to access to internet, the psychiatrists feel that aspirations of
adolescents and adults.
The juvenile justice (care and protection of children) act, 2015
The parliament enacted juvenile justice (care and protection of children) act
2015(2of 2016), which received the assent of the president of India on 31st
December,2015. Section 3 of the act enumerates the principles that are to be
followed in the administration of the act among them are:
- Principles of presumption of innocence
- Principles of dignity and worth
- Principles of best interest
- Principles of family responsibility
- Principle of safety
The J.J act recognizes two categories of juveniles namely 1. Juveniles in
conflict with law 2. Juveniles in need of care and protection. A child, who is
alleged to have committed an offence, and has not completed18years of the age on
the date of an commission of an offence is defined juvenile in conflict with
law. Section 2(d) describes the juveniles who need care and
According to the Act, the maximum tenure of punishment which can be
given to the juvenile offenders is three years and this punishment is valid for
heinous crime also. In case of an adult offender, the maximum punishment which
can be given is 7 years or life imprisonment or death penalty.
The main cause of juvenile delinquency are:
The industrial development and economic growth in India has resulted into
urbanisation which in turn has given rise to new problem such as housing, slum
dwelling, overcrowding, lack of parental control.
Poverty is another potential cause of juvenile delinquency. Failure of parents
to provide necessities of life such as food and clothing etc. At times, even the
parents conspire at this for the sake of petty monetary gains.
Poverty, illiteracy, child labour, squalor, etc are also some of the
contributing factors aggravating juvenile delinquency.
Biological factors such as early physiological maturity or low intelligence,
also account for delinquency behaviour among juveniles. The hormonal changes in
the body of the juveniles are responsible for their impulsive and rebellious
behaviour. Special care should be taken to ensure effective protection to girls
against prostitution and child pornography.
Interdisciplinary studies on juvenile delinquency reveal that across the world,
many behavioural changes occur in the juveniles/ adolescents, which are related
to the sudden changes in their body due hormonal surge, associated with puberty.
The changes are most apparent in physical parameters, such as change in height
and weight of the adolescents, and are soon followed by other sexual and
physical changes of maturity. These physical changes are accompanied by mental
Social factors such as poverty and low education are also responsible for
juvenile delinquency. Habits of substance abuse also make the youth vulnerable
to offending. Broken families are directly related to higher rates of
delinquency. These indicates that the juvenile who receive less familial
supervision, or who live in dysfunctional family settings or in disadvantaged
families have more chances of getting involved in delinquent behaviour.
It set age limits on criminal responsibility and excluded children younger than
7 from culpability. The children between 7 and 12 years of age were considered
to have sufficient maturity to understand the nature of their actions under
Social Media – Films and pornographic literature have also added to the
magnitude of delinquency. Cinema and obscene literature may often provoke sexual
and other impulses in adolescence. Hence, they may start their ‘adventure’ in
satisfying them in the process of which they commit crimes.
Review of literature
In education, crime, smoking, teenage pregnancy, school dropout, etc.,
economists have pointed out the importance of peer effects in explaining these
outcomes (see, e.g., Glaeser and Scheinkman 2001)
Similarly, a number of studies have shown that children in the juvenile justice
system experience substantially higher rates of mental health and substance
abuse disorders than youth in the general population.12-16
(Wasserman et al.16) studied past-month mental health diagnoses among a group of
male youth in secure placement facilities and found expectably high rates of
disruptive diagnoses (33 percent), but also high rates of substance abuse
diagnoses (50 percent),anxiety disorders (20 percent) and mood disorders (10
In considering violence by youths, Rossow et al.24 and Bernburg and
Thorlindsson25 show that when violence is measured as a specific act, such as
beating or threatening to beat someone or having been in a fight with a weapon,
frequent intoxication will lead to increased violence, as will the use of
marijuana or other drugs. Salts et al.26 find that alcohol and marijuana use are
highly correlated with increased violent behaviors in both black and white
adolescent males. Similar findings hold for teens of both genders when examining
drug use and violence in school.27.
Education seems to be a central component of the problem and solution (Council
of State Governments and Public Policy Research Initiative, 2011). Low
educational attainment is linked to higher rates of delinquency and recidivism (Cottle,
Lee, & Heilbrun, 2001; Leone et al., 2003), while increased literacy and
educational achievement is associated with lower rates of crime (Cottle et al.,
2001; Keith &McCray, 2002).
How juvenile justice system is different from criminal justice system?
The supreme court, in Dr. Subramanian swamy and others V.Raju through member of
J.J board and another has clarified that juvenile justice system and criminal
justice system are different from each other.
In the case of juvenile offenders, FIR and charge sheet are filed only in
serious cases, where the punishment for the offence exceeds seven years.
A juvenile in conflict with the law is not arrested but apprehended only when
allegation is for serious crime.
One apprehended the police must immediately place such juvenile under the care
of welfare officer who produces him/her before the juvenile justice board. Thus,
police does not retain pre-trail custody over the juvenile.
Grant of bail to juvenile offender in conflict with law is a rule.
J.J board conducts child friendly inquiry and not an adversarial trial.
The criminal trial aims at finding the guilt or innocence with the object to
punish the offender but juvenile trial aims at reformation and rehabilitation of
the errant juvenile who is in conflict with law.
According to The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) 2019 data indicates that
there has been an increase in crimes committed by juveniles, especially by those
in the above 12 and 18 below years’ age group. Highest offences committed by
juvenile for affecting human body is 12173 total registered. In the age of
12years above and 18years below in both male and female is 3148. Offences
registered against the state is zero.
The Offences registered against public tranquillity is total 1157. And below 12years it is 11 and 12years above and
below 18 it is 291 in both male Female. Offences registered against property is
total 11935. Below 12years it is 212 and 12 years above and below 18 years it is
4009 in both male Female. Offences registered against the documents and property
marks is 121 total. Below 12years it is 1 and above 12 and below 18years it is
Treatment of juvenile in conflict with law and children in need of care and
The juvenile who need only a short term custody during
inquiry or trial are kept in an observation home. This institution is also used
for the custody of under trial children and juvenile in conflict with law about
whom inquiry is pending or who are awaiting trail or removal to an appropriate
home or borstal.
There are children’s homes for the treatment of neglected children for whom a
short term regulatory protective care is necessary but a long term residential
training is not necessary.
Special homes or correction homes:
The J.J act,2000 also provides for setting
up correction home for custody of delinquent juveniles. Basic amenities such as
accommodation medical care, education, and vocational training are available to
delinquent juvenile in these homes.
Homes are actually crime nurseries for the juveniles in conflict with the law
because of the mismanagement and lack of clear vision as also infrastructure.
Effects and societal reaction:
Young people who commit serious crimes before they are 18 years old
challenge the future for everyone involved. They may be acting out to protest
perceived abuses that have been perpetrated against them. They may believe that
there is no future for them outside of a life of crime.
They may be expressing
anger or frustration directed against another person or group or looking for
approval from a gang. Whatever the motive, juvenile delinquency affects too many
families, and communities. It is a serious problem that challenges the efforts
of government agencies, politicians, educators, faith communities, and nonprofit
The juvenile who commits a crime also suffers effects that he or she is
probably unable to predict. He or she may lose his or her freedom while being
incarcerated or placed on probation. The juvenile may lose ground academically
as well. Although placement in residential detention centers for juveniles may
be appropriate consequences for the adolescent's criminal actions, it also puts
him or her in relationships with other delinquents, who may be more
sophisticated or influential.
This makes recidivism likely and, in many states,
when a juvenile older than 14 becomes a repeat offender, he or she can be tried
and sentenced as an adult. The delinquency may even have future consequences on
the adolescent's college and career choices.
The upheaval and trauma of having a family member who is a juvenile
delinquent can create instability for the other relatives. Not only does the
family have to cope with the needs of the child who is in trouble, but they may
also have to raise large amounts of money to pay for lawyers. In addition, the
family has to face the ethical issues of responsibility to the victims of the
child's crime. Families must usually attend group counseling sessions, which can
be disruptive and costly during the time when the child is in detention or on
The rehabilitative model embodied in the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency
Prevention Act of 1974, focusing on the needs of the young offender, has lost
ever more ground over the past 20 years to punitive models that focus mainly on
the offense committed. Government policy on juvenile delinquency must often
struggle with the appropriate balance of concern over the healthy development of
children and adolescents who violate the law and a public desire to punish
This tension between rehabilitation and punishment when dealing with children
and adolescents who commit crimes results in an ambivalent orientation toward
young offenders. Criminal acts must be suppressed, condemned, and
punished. Children and adolescents who commit criminal acts must be educated and
supported in a growth process that should be the objective of government policy
for all young people, including young offenders.
Adolescence is a period of dating, driving, and expanding social networks—all
choices that can produce positive or negative consequences for the adolescent
and the community. Public policies in the areas of education, medical care,
alcoholic beverage control, and juvenile crime reflect beliefs that adolescents
have not acquired the abilities or capacities necessary for adult status.
Creating the appropriate public policy for a period of semiautonomy is no small
task (Zimring, 1982).
- Sander, J. B., Patall, E. A., Amoscato, L. A., Fisher, A. L., & Funk, C.
(2012). A meta-analysis of the effect of juvenile delinquency interventions
on academic outcomes. Children and Youth Services Review, 34(9), 1695-1708
- Patacchini, E., & Zenou, Y. (2012). Juvenile delinquency and
conformism. The Journal of Law, Economics, & Organization, 28(1), 1-31.
- Cuellar, A. E., Markowitz, S., & Libby, A. M. (2004). Mental health and
substance abuse treatment and juvenile crime. Journal of Mental Health
Policy and Economics, 59-68.
- Scott, T., & Brown, S. L. (2018). Risks, strengths, gender, and
recidivism among justice-involved youth: A meta-analysis. Journal of
Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 86(11), 931.