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Forensic Psychology In Juvenile System Versus Protection Law

Minimum Age if Criminal Responsibility or MACR is the age below which a person cannot be held criminally responsible. This is a form of defence known as excuse so that defendants falling within the definition of an "infant" are excluded from criminal liability for their actions, if at the relevant time; they had not reached an age of criminal responsibility. These offenders are commonly referred as 'juvenile offender' under the law.

In India A boy or girl under 18 years of age is a juvenile according to the Juvenile Justice Code Act,2000. The age of criminal responsibility is 7 years set by Section 82 of The Indian Penal Code 1860. Neither Capital punishment nor life imprisonment without the possibility of release can be imposed offender below 18. Every State has a juvenile Justice Board and a special court to be dealt with by the juvenile justice Board.

In USA the definition for juveniles (anyone under the age of 18) is same across the country but the judicial process differs. The age of criminal responsibility varies between states, being as low as 6 years in South Carolina and 7 years in 35 states; 11 years is the minimum age for federal crimes, many states, such as Massachusetts, have special courts set aside to try and convict juveniles. Others such as Colorado have courts that deal with juvenile cases in addition to regular one. Juvenile cannot be given the death penalty but can be awarded life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

The Canadian Youth Criminal Justice Act governs the application of Criminal and correctional law to those 12years old or older, but younger than 18 at the time of committing the offence. Youth aged 14 to 17 may be tried or sentenced as adults under certain conditions, such as in cases of murder. Emphasis is placed on rehabilitation and reintegration of the juvenile. Extrajudicial measures are also used for responding to less serious youth crimes. Police possess the power to use discretion in deciding whether to issue a warning, a police caution, or a charge. If the police decide to refer the case to the courts, the Crown can choose to issue a Crown caution. At times, community support is also involved, which includes mediating between the victim and offender.

The minimum age for criminal responsibility in Pakistan is seven years. Additionally, section 83 of the Pakistan Pena Code says that nothing is an offence which is done by a child above seven years of age under the age of twelve, who has not attained sufficient maturity of understanding to judge the nature and consequences of his or her conduct or that occasion.

China's juvenile Criminal justice is in the process of reform and improvement. Death penalty is not applicable to juvenile cases. The law provides for protection of defense rights and juvenile criminal cases are not tried openly, although records remain unsealed. After another double-digit increase in juvenile arrests in 2003, China's Supreme People's Court began a pilot programme to establish independence juvenile courts in 18 locations.

Legal revisions are also set to take effect this year. 'Conditional non-prosecution' practiced in the West, will be introduced to allow youth who commit minor offenses to avoid jail time by successfully completing six to 12 months' probation. The sealing of juvenile criminal records will also be applied nationwide for those who have been sentenced to less than five years' improvement.

Under the English common law the defence of infancy was expressed as a set of presumptions in a doctrine known as doli incapax. A child under the age of seven was presumed incapable of committing a crime. The presumption was conclusive, prohibiting the prosecution from offering evidence that a child had the capacity to appreciate the nature and wrongfulness of what they had done.

Children aged under seven to fourteen were presumed incapable of committing a crime but the presumption was rebuttable. The prosecution could overcome the presumption by proving that the child understood what they were doing and it was wrong. In fact, capacity was a necessary element of the state's case. If the state failed to offer sufficient evidence of capacity, the infant was entitled to have the charges dismissed at the close of the state's evidence.

Doli incapax - position in India
In India, criminal law acknowledges an age line below which children are not truly capable of crime. Below the age of 7, the Indian Criminal Procedure considers that children are incapable of having the required cognitive and moral process to commit a crime. This is absolute immunity. Between the age of 7 and 12, the CrPC provides for presumption of innocence in favour of children, but if the prosecution can prove and provide evidence for the contrary then the child can be prosecuted. From 14 to 18 years a child is liable only if he has an insight into both the legality and punishability of the act. A minor can be tried as an adult only when a general test is done to ascertain whether the child had adequate understanding of the consequences of his actions.

Criminal liability of a child under IPC
Absolute Immunity:
Section 82 of the Indian Penal Code completely makes an infant below 7 years of age immune from criminal liability, since a child below this age is considered doli incapax in law. That is to say a child under such age cannot form the necessary intention to constitute a crime since he possesses no adequate discretion or understanding at this age for his deeds.

Thus, if a child below 7 years of age is charged for committing a crime, the fact that he was at that time below 7 years of age is ipso facto an answer to the prosecution. The scope of the immunity granted under this section is wide enough to exempt a chid not only from prosecution for offences under the special as well as local laws, as explained under section 40 of the Penal Code.

Act of a child above seven and under twelve of immature understanding
Section 83 of the code provides qualified immunity to a child above seven years and under twelve years of age. In other words, if it shows that a child within the age group of 7 to 12 years has not attained the requisite degree of understanding and maturity to judge the nature and consequences of his conduct, he is exempted from criminal liability. The presumption of innocence of a child is based on the principle that 'the younger the child in age, the lesser the probability of being corrupt'.

This is to say, malice makes up for age, i.e., militia supplet aetatem. Hence as age advances the maxim loses force. In the absence of such proof a child above seven years and under 12 years of age is as much liable for his deeds as an adult criminal. The maturity of his understanding can be inferred from the nature of the act and his subsequent conduct and other allied factors, such as his behaviour, conduct and appearance in court.

For instance, if a child aged nine years picks up a necklace valued at Rs.100 lying on table in his friend's house and immediately sells it for Rs. 20 and misappropriates the money, these acts show that he was sufficiently mature to understand the nature and consequence of his deed of theft. Hence, he would not be protected under this section. His deed would constitute theft within the meaning of section 378 of the Code. Under the English law a child between the age of 10 and 14years as against 7 to 12 years under Indian Law enjoys the privilege of qualified immunity.

On the other hand, a girl aged 10 years who picked up a silver button and gave it to her mother was not held liable for theft. It was held that these factors were not sufficient to show maturity on her part to understand the nature of her act.

In Hiralal Mallick v. State of Bihar 1977 Cr Lj 1921 (SC); AIR1977 SC2236, the Supreme Court held that a child below 7 years is completely free of any criminal responsibility but a child between 7 to 12 years of he is qualified to avail the defence of doli incapax, if it is proved that he has not attained sufficient maturity of understanding to judge the nature and consequences of his act. This presumption may be rebutted by evidence of "mischievous discretion" i.e., knowledge that what was done was morally wrong.

The appellant aged 12 years along with his two elder brothers participated in a concerted action and used a sharp weapon, a sword on the neck of the deceased to avenge and ran like others. No evidence was led about the youth's feeble understanding of his action and hence the defence was not allowed and accused was held liable for the offence.

In Ulla v. King, (AIR 1950 Ori 261) the accused, a girl about 10 years old was scolded by her father-in-law and her husband who had attempted to beat her. A few days after the incident, she struck her husband on his neck with sharp instrument while he was asleep, which resulted in his death. After the assault she run away and concealed herself.

Judging from her conduct before and after the incident the court concluded that she was doli capax, i.e. capable of understanding the nature of the act and so was held guilty of murder. However, the court remanded her for a reprieve of sentence instead of seven years considering her age.

Presumption as to Age between Ten and Fourteen is Rebuttable under Common Law
In R v. Gorrie, (1909) it was held that at common law a child aged between ten and fourteen is rebuttably presumed incapable of committing an offence. This presumption is rebutted if the prosecution proves that the child had a mischievous discretion.

Gorrie, aged thirteen years, and three other schoolboys were playing near their homes. Gorrie had a penknife, with which he was cutting a wood. Something was said in fun about Germans, and Gorrie chased one of the boys. The penknife, which Gorrie happened to have opened in hand at the time, occasioned a trifling wound in the boy's buttock. The boy did not report the wound consequently died later of septic poisoning. Gorrie was charged with manslaughter (culpable homicide).

In the case of persons under fourteen years of age, the law presumed that they were not criminally responsible. They were not supposed to have that discretion which makes them criminally responsible. But in any particular case, if the prosecution could show that although the accused was under fourteen the act was done with what was called mischievous discretion, then they could rebut the presumption that the child was not responsible. If it was an intentional stab, (move), it would be manslaughter.

Since the boy was under fourteen, the law presumed that he was not responsible criminally, unless prosecution gives very clear and complete evidence of what was called mischievous discretion; that meant that they must satisfy that when the boys did this he knew that he was doing what wrong- not merely what was wrong, but what was gravely wrong. Since there was no evidence the boy when, as alleged, he jabbed the other with knife in this horse-play, had any consciousness that he was doing which was gravely wrong, he is not guilty.

Similarly, in R.v.Runeckles the Divisional court held that at common law a child under 14 is presumed not to have reached the age of discretion and is to be deemed doli incapax. The presumption is rebuttable and burden of rebutting is upon prosecution.

On 2nd July, 982, the defendant aged 13, and another girl had a discussion with the victim in a public place. After the discussion the victim went home, to which house the defendant and her companion then went. On their arrival at the home, the front door was opened. The victim was hit by the defendant with a milk bottle and was then stabbed by the defendant with a broken bottle.

The defendant and her companion fled and sought to hide in a garden, when they were apprehended by a police officer. In those circumstances the justices convicted the defendant and her companion.

The defendant pleaded before the Divisional Court that the defendant's conviction must be quashed because of the operation of the presumption which applies in regard to the acts of the children aged between 10 and 14; and the prosecution could rebut this presumption only by showing that the child appreciated that, that which he or she had done was morally wrong; and that this could not have been done on the fact of this case.

Upholding the conviction, the Court said, that the presumption of doli incapax had been rebutted, and that this 13 years old girl (who from her statement seemed of normal intelligence) appreciated that what she did to her victim was a seriously wrong thing to do. Thus, there was evidence on which one could concluded that the defendant had mischievous discretion.

Position in England and Wales
In 1998 the Government abolished the principle of doli incapax. This was the presumption in law that Children aged under 14 did not know the difference between right and wrong and were therefore not capable of committing an offence. This presumption could be rebutted for children between aged of 10 to 14 if the prosecution could satisfy the court that the child knew what he was doing was seriously wrong, not "merely naughty or mischievous"

The change in the law means that children over the age of 9 can be arrested, taken to a police station, interviewed and charged with offences. They can be taken to court and convicted of crimes, receiving a criminal record. It is the young age of criminality in all Europe. It has been condemned by The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child and is held not to be internationally accepted.

This change in the law wasn't based upon evidence based research. The government decided to reform youth justice with the explicit intention to "stop making excuses for children who offend". A major focus of the reforms was to remove doli incapax, which was achieved by enactment of section 34 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998.

Undoubtedly the tragic Jamic Bulger case was a major influence in focusing the government on the issue of the age of criminality. In the House of Lords decision of C (A Minor) v. DPP Lord Lowry acknowledged that there were 'popular and political overtones' which surrounded the abolition.

The shocking killing of 2-year-old Jamie Bulger by two 10-year-olds Jon Venables and Robert Thompson led to worldwide media attention and two boys were vilified in the British press. Doli incapax had not had not yet been abolished but the boys were deemed to know right from wrong and were therefore prosecuted. They were sentenced to imprisonment at Her Majesty's pleasure with a tariff of 5years (a minimum period in custody to be served).

This sentence was passed upon the intervention of the Secretary of State, who set the tariff based on petitions and correspondence from members of the public and national press coverage endorsing a long or whole-life tariff.

The House of Lords quashed the sentence in 2000, in part due to the fact that it was deemed that the conduct of the Secretary of State was contrary to the rule of law. In other words, it was an abuse of executive power to step in and interfere with the case as a result of public pressure.

Neuroscience suggests that the pre-frontal cortex (responsible for executive functions, such as problem solving, planning and decision making) is only fully developed by the age of 25. At 10 old, our ability to fully comprehend the impact of our actions is simply not present.This is before and adults who are exposed to the criminal justice system are fare far more likely to suffer from learning disabilities than those that do not.

In the Bulger case the psychiatrist who assessed Venables said that although he was chronologically over the age of 10 at the time of killing, he was less mature as far as psychology of emotional age was concerned.

It is not unusual to see adult defendants with IQs as low as 65 (the average is 100). The ability of a person like this at any age to appreciate the consequences of their actions is much lower than someone without these vulnerabilities.

The Centre for Social Justice's "Rule of Engagement: Changing the Heart of Youth Justice", concluded that there was sufficient body of research that indicated that early adolescence, a period of marked neurodevelopment immaturity. The law as it currently stands holds children accountable to the same extent as an adult but a children's capacity at this age is not equivalent to that of an older adolescent or adult. As a result, adolescents are particularly prone to risk taking behaviours which they often grow out of later in life.

Thompson and Venables received substancial custodial sentences. In courts Mr Justice Morland told them: 'You will be securely detained for very, very many years until the Home Sceretary is satisfied that you have matured and are fully rehabilitated and no longer a danger to others'.
There is ample evidence that criminalising children does not reduce future offending behaviour.

Venables has continued to offend in adult life.
The case can be compared to a similar crime that occurred in Norway just twenty months after Bulger killing whereby a young girl was violently killed by two little boys. In stark contrast to the UK, there was no highly politicised media campaign condemning the boys and they were dealt with primarily as a welfare issue. The focus was on reintegrating the boys as much as possible. There have been no re-offending and no similar cases of extreme violence committed by young children since.

These case were some 20 years ago, in these 20 years the society has changed very much, along with that maturity and understanding levels of children's has also gone high. As per the view expressed by UNB Rao, founder chairman, Urivi Vikram Charitable Trust, which has been working since two decades to prevent juvenile crimes in India, A 15-year-old of the modern world is seen as matured and informed as an adult aged 20-25 some 15 years ago. In such cases, mental growth and age don't go hand in hand."

The policy of treating minors as incapable of committing crimes no longer reflects modern sensibilities. In many cases it has been seen that some child has faster mental development than the others. And indeed given the different speed at which people may develop both physically an intellectually, any form of explicit age limit is may be arbitrary and irrational. For the reason the mental state of a person while committing an act is now a major deciding factor in determining whether or not the act in question is an offence at all.

In these cases, forensic psychology comes to rescue. It works for threat assessment for schools, child custody evaluations, competency evaluations of criminal defendants and of the elderly, counselling service to victim to the crimes, post-traumatic stress disorder and also the delivery and evaluation of intervention and treatment for juvenile and adult offender. Even though in several cases the forensic psychology has proved beyond doubt that minors have not only committed a wrongful act but also have full knowledge of the wrongful and illegal nature of such act. But in such cases the mere fact that they have not attained majority���.. acts as a mitigating factor in trails of minors.

Reasons vary for juveniles' getting into varies forms of crime. Impulsive disorders, peer pressure, disturbed environment, broken family, aggression, lavish lifestyles and uncontrolled freedom from parents are some factors leading to a rise of this dangerous trend- which is not limited to India alone.

Add to this, newer problems of unrestrained access to technology and complex cyber space, and the problem is growing.

Says, clinical Psychologist Rajat Mitra, who has been dealing with juvenile crime cases for close to 25 years now, "There are several multi-factorial reasons for the rise in the number of such cases in our country as well as abroad. Values are no longer absolute, but relative. Such kids exist in the grey zones. These days they are becoming adult's quickly. There has been a neural overload on the kids' brains and that's why they aren't able to integrate it well. That often escalates into anger, and their threshold is low."

Increasing number of juvenile crime is a harsh reality in today's world.

The December 16, 2012 Delhi gang rape, also known as Nirbhaya case put the spotlight not just on the rise in juvenile crime, but also opened up a debate on the methods required to curtail it.

Along with the recent rise in number of crimes committed by juvenile in India, there has also been rise in the shrill debates around it.

One of the six accused in the case was a 17 years, a minor within the meaning of law and also was the most brutal attacker of all, But just because section 18(1) of Juvenile justice care and protection Act 2000 and also section 27 of The Code of Criminal Procedure1973 provides for protection and rehabilitation of the juvenile offenders, he was sent to correctional home for 3 years which is the maximum punishment given to a juvenile offender��where other adults offender were executed.

After his release on December 20 2015, he was kept with an NGO for a few days. Later, the NGO rehabilitated him in southern part of the country, where he joined as a cook in a roadside eatery.

His councillor at juvenile home has expressed that:
"There was no regret on his face when I first met him after he was arrested. Nor is there any today. I didn't have to grill him to make him confess to his crimes. He told me in details about his role in the crime. "He told that he convinced Nirbhaya and her friend to board the bus and about how the crime was committed by all of them. The counsellor also said "He told me that before Nirbhaya boarded the bus, he had tried to convince another girl who was alone to get in, but that had failed."

But the questions remain the same as whether such children should roam free in public domain or not.

What experts agree on, though, is that it's a vicious cycle with no straight solutions or answers.

Arguments were brought forward that the blanket immunity from criminal prosecution to juvenile below eighteen years need to be withdrawn I cases of involvement of juveniles in heinous offences like murder, gang rape, acid attacks. The recent amendment of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 reduced the age of juvenile offenders who can be tried as adults to sixteen years.

On this point the Supreme Court noted Parliamentary decisions should not be carried out just in emotion and anger. Will the political class reconsider and legislate a better juvenile Act?

There are fifteen year old teens also who are accused of grievous offences like rape, fourteen years olds are committing murders. Punishment should be reformative not reattributed especially in the purview of juveniles in conflict with law. Except in case of rare offences democracies in general make the guilty pass through correctional phases. In my opinion criminality is much more important criterion than age of offender, thus the amendment should be in terms of non-applicability of the juvenility condition in cases like rape, murder, waging war against the State and so on and forth.

There are certain flaws in the bill, provision that if children are engaged in militant activities, their punishment would be maximum seven years. It sends a shiver down the spine to imagine notorious terrorists who unflinchingly committing genocide can be set free if they are not majors! Another aspect which comes to mind is how important and effective the age criteria introspect further? For example, if family plots revenge against another family or against their kin with whom they bear deep rooted antipathy, they might decide to make their fifteen year old the perpetrator of the crime, cunningly being well aware that he or she will be released before eighteen. Thus, to conclude law has loopholes and justice is not served in all cases.

Putting aside the scepticism and controversies, we would like to bring forth the decision regarding determination of the age of juvenile in conflict with law by citing some landmark judgements which in span of over three decades were overruled and modified until the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2015 came into existence.

In the case of Krishna Bhagwan v. State of Bihar, the full bench of Patna High Court observed that to determine the age of juvenile for the purpose of this trail under the Juvenile Justice Act, the relevant date should be the date on which the offence is committed and not the date on which the juvenile in conflict with law is brought before court. Thus when the juvenile accused is within the age limit prescribed by the act, he or she should be tried in a Juvenile Court (now Juvenile Justice Board under Juvenile Justice Act 2015) despite the fact that he exceeds that age limit at the time when he was brought before the competent court for trail.

The Supreme Court reiterated the similar view in Bhola Bhagat v. State of Bihar and further explicitly specified that it is immaterial if the juvenile exceeds the prescribed age on the day.

But this decision was later overruled by the Supreme Court in Arnit Das v. State of Bihar, in which it held that crucial date to decide the issue whether a person is juvenile or not is the date when he or she is brought before the competent authority and not he date of commission of the offence.

Presently around forty two percent of the Indian population is below eighteen years. The recent times have witnessed some of the most brutal and heinous crimes being perpetrated by the children.

The Madhya Pradesh High Court in its decision in Sunit and Anr. V. State of Maharashtra clarified that the court cannot leave determination of the age of Juvenile but it is required to make an inquiry suo motu.

With the December 16 gang rape and other cases, several crimes committed by juveniles are increasingly in the news.

More than 30,000 cases of juvenile crime are coming up every
up every year, that is 1.1% of the total crime committed in the country, points out lawyer Anant Asthana, who works for juvenile justice in India.

Other data provided by prof KD GAUR in his book, ' Indian penal code' shows that in 2014 The highest share of cases registered against juvenile were reported under the crime head 'theft' (20.0%), 'rape' (5.9%) and 'grievous hurt' & 'assault on women with intent to outrage modesty' (4.7%) each. These four crime heads have together accounted for 39.75 of total IPC cases of juveniles in conflict with law.

Cases of juvenile in conflict with law reported under various SLL crimes have increased by 21.8% in 2014 as compared to 2013, as 4,136 cases of juvenile in conflict with law under SLL reported in 2013 which increased to 5,039 cases in 2014.The highest share of case registered against juvenile was reported for the crime under 'Prohibition Act' which accounted for 41.3% of total SLL cases (5,039 cases) registered against juveniles.

Juvenile crime is on the rise not only in India but also all over the World; psychology suggests that the crime is on the rise due to extensive exposure, along with a number of distractions, including struggling with emotional upheavals in a modern and highly competitive world.

Apart from the oft-repeated reasons, there are other factors like the role of genes- whether violence can be traced to bad genes, and where we are lagging behind in the role of society, parental responsibility and state measures.

The big question remains, if violence can be traced to genes.
"The reasons responsible for the crime committed at such an age are a mix of factors like biology and environment. What we lack are 'protective factors' which help us dealing with negative influences even if it's coming from one's genes" says Mitra. If one has a 'secure base', which in psychology means care-givers who provide a safe base for a child to explore the world, things would be much better, he adds. Our tendency to be lax, casual ad the habit of putting everything under the carpet is the main barrier that needs to be addressed.

Says Psychiatrist Sanjay Chugh, "Once we realise that this period is the foundation of adult anti-social behaviour, we'll be able to control and prevent a lot of damage. Teenage is a critical time, when important cognitive impressions and concept of morals, values, right or wrong are formed. It's also the time when kids are curious. They try different things, drive stimulation from multiple sources, and are willing to take risks and could thrive on being rebels."

In today's times, what seems to have changed is that people report juvenile crimes more often because there's a growing concern over the issue. While more news, more noise about such issues can force people to take some preventive or corrective measures, it could also give ideas to others to indulge in similar acts, especially when they see that the offenders get away with it easily.

The Online impact
With youngsters becoming Internet savvy, juvenile cybercrimes are on the rise and misuse of Internet is becoming common.

At middle and high school levels, cyber-crimes include digital piracy like stealing data, online bullying and harassment which includes threatening, blackmailing, and circulating sexually explicit messages/videos through text messages, MMS or e-mails, viewing online pornography, and computer hacking. Technology, which adults can find complex, swiftly used and misused by this age group which puts them in grey area where there are no indications of right or wrong.

The temptation is much more at the teenage level. Spending more time online for non-academic reasons, behind highly trained with computers and having a computer or phone for their personal usage provides them with an opportunity to commit such crimes.

"The anonymity afforded by the Internet and computer technology, coupled with the relative ease and innocuous appearance of most online activities in public settings, may make cyber-deviance more attractive to some youths than real life world offences" says a study titled Low Self-Control, Deviant Peer Associations and Juvenile Cyber-deviance, published by journal Springer in 2011.

From stealing jewellery to stabbing other minors, molesting and raping young girls to killing women as old as their grandmothers, there seems to have been no let-up in juvenile crime in India. Statistics shows that 30 to 40% of the boys and 16 to 32% girls have committed a serious violation offense by the age of 17years, Here is some example of the years 2012-2013
  • Feb 6, 2013 Varanasi- Five juvenile thieves were nabbed with 130 grams of gold ornaments and 1.5 lakh which they had stolen from two hotels in Cantonment area
  • Feb 2, 2013 Chandigarh- A juvenile recently released from a juvenile home attacked and stabbed a minor boy inside his house.
  • Feb 3, 2013, Gurgaon- A 16years-old boy allegedly molested a 12-year- old girl in Bajghera village on Sunday, following which he and his mother thrashed the girl.
  • Jan 20, 2013, Ludhiana: Two men and a minor were accused of raping a 12-year-old girl who allegedly got impregnated by them.
  • Jan 12, 2013, New Delhi- A five-year-old child was molested by a juvenile employed as a teacher at a private school in North-east Delhi.
  • Dec 18, 2012, Chandigarh- The local police arrested a juvenile for raping a minor Dalit girl. Two other under-age friends of the accused were also arrested, for conspiring, but not raping the victim.
  • Oct 1, 2012 Gurgaon: A seven-year-old girl was abducted, raped and abused by her juvenile neighbour.
  • June 29, 2012, New Delhi- The Delhi police apprehended five juvenile who had killed an 83-years-old women during a robbery attempt in west Delhi.

According to the ministry of women and child development, two out of three children are abused in one form or the other. In many children are used to commit offences and evading justice. They are often groomed into committing offences such as drug dealing by older youths and adults. Either way, young people coerced into crime are also victims and should be treated as such.

Says, Psychiatrist Sandeep Govil, who has been working with juvenile crime in Tihar jail, "It's a vicious cycle, one factor propagating through other. For example, harsh parenting instability and violence in the family create an insecure environment for a child's growth. Society should stop labelling and let individuals grow and overcome their weaknesses. The State has gone wrong in its inability to provide a secure environment for the person and his/her family socially, economically and culturally which leads to such cases."

A criminal conviction or caution can in practice seriously impact a young person's chances to become gainfully employed in later life. Although some convictions and out-of-court disposals become spent after period of time, some offences, such as arson or robbery or any offence resulting in a custodial sentence do not and these conviction van haunt people and hinder their careers for the rest of their lives.

Not only this, the stigma of a criminal conviction can psychologically make it very difficult for young people to engage with education, training or employment. Studies show that a conviction has a significant impact in reinforcing a criminal identity, making it harder for the children to escape criminally.

It has been seen that young people who receive convictions in childhood and youth often people who receive convictions in childhood and youth often do not have the confidence to apply for even low skilled jobs, due to the anticipated embarrassment and disappointment of going through the recruitment process and having to reveal criminal records. In short, criminalisation means reoffending is more likely later in life. We are effectively creating criminals and the chronic unemployment which burdens society.

A new approach focus on the causes of crime, often young offenders is victims of far worse crimes that the usually petty crimes they commit when they first start offending. Except the rare instances, rather than criminalise, we should be looking at the cause of this behaviour as a safeguarding issue. Not only is this necessary in the interest of the right of thee child but also in order to prevent re-offending and an escalation of offending.

But it is also very much true that this method doesn't work in all the cases.

Where the crime in concern is heinous crime like committing rape, murder, acid attacks etc. giving protection does not serve full justice to the victims. There may be various reasons for juveniles getting into various forms of crime such as impulsive disorders, peer pressure, disturbed environment, broken family or lavish lifestyle and uncontrolled freedom from parents or even sudden change in technology world.

But none of the reason can reduce the damages caused as a result of their act.

In my opinion where a minor is capable of executing a crime in the same manner and with the same understanding like an adult, the punishment which should be imposed to such offender should be the same as any other adult person would have got for the same crime.

Legal system should defiantly work for protection of children but along with that the justice should also be served to the victims.

End Note:
  • Doli Incapax: Why Do We Hold Our 10 Year Olds To Have Criminal Responsibility?-
  • Juvenile Delinquency World Youth Report, 2003.
  • Juvenile Justice (Care and protection of children) Act, 2000
  • Juvenile Forensic Psychology in the Justice System- timesofindia.indiatimes
  • Indian Penal Coded book by k D Guar

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