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Remodeling of Government School setting of India to prevent Juvenile Delinquency

In September 2013 a 12-year-old girl was allegedly gang-raped by five minor boys in Guwahati's Hatigaon area. The girl was gang-raped by those boys near her house. According to the report, the boys were her neighbors and their age was between 12 and 16 years. The boys were sent to juvenile court. Child Rights Activists had thrown their ideas for reducing the age of juvenility from 18 to 16 and also suggested removing minors involved in heinous crimes from the juvenile justice act as a consequence of this crime.

In December 2012 a 23-year-old female was gang-raped, beaten, and tortured by 6 persons in a private bus where she was traveling with her male friend. The incident took place in Delhi. She was admitted to the hospital but could not survive more than 13 days. One of the accused was a minor. After this event, various states like the Jammu and Kashmir government also changed the state laws against sexual offenses and gender crimes. Rajya Sabha passed the Juvenile Justice Bill, proposing that the accused above 16 years of age will be treated as an adult in a court of law.

There are many such cases where the accused are below the age of 18 and are involved in heinous crimes. It is a considerable threat to the Nation because children are presumed to be the glory of the future. According to John F Kennedy, Children are the world's most valuable resource and its best hope for the future". This article sheds light on the need for changes in government school settings in India to prevent delinquency.

According to NCRB, 976 crimes were committed by juveniles in 2019 and increased by 23% which is 1282 in 2020. Out of 1282 the crime registered under the POCSO Act wherein cases registered under theft were 219, burglary 75, and rape 54. The 2020 data showed that 575 juveniles out of 1282 had passed the secondary school exam. According to NCRB (2020), most of the juveniles involved in deviant behavior are from medium and lower socioeconomic status, they lived with their parents.

Deviance is a social construct related to behaviors that violate social norms. According to Merton, there are different criteria like conformity, innovation, ritualism, retreatism, and rebellion that differentiate deviance from normal behavior. Deviant behavior is observed and emerges from pre-adolescence age and peaks till adulthood if not addressed at an early stage. Family and School settings play a crucial role in identifying the triggers and preventing unlawful behavior.

As the numbers are increasing day by day, it is important to understand why adolescents feel the need to get involved in unlawful acts which in turn leads to committing a crime. If poverty is one of the reasons for committing delinquent acts, then it can be assumed that children from lower and medium socioeconomic status backgrounds go to government schools rather than private schools. Here schools play a big role in developing the personalities of the children, so if the intervention and implementation of various programs can be started from the very basic levels in different government schools of India, then the crime rate will be definitely reduced and the prevention of further crime and reduce recidivism.

So if the trigger of delinquency is the family, neighborhood, community, or environment then school plays a crucial role in preventing and identifying offending behaviors at an early stage. This will help in discontinuing the unlawful behaviors as most of them manifest due to dysfunctional family settings and community.

Children with Cognitive and temperamental problems often belong in disadvantageous environments. They are more vulnerable due to the environment around them which leads to continuity of anti-social behaviors. Parents of low socioeconomic children lack the resources to manage their child's difficult behaviors. It is therefore important to implement prosocial behaviors instead of offending behaviors.

Theories stating Juvenile delinquency and the associated risk factors
  • Psychosexual Theory
    The theory developed by Sigmund Freud explains that juveniles are very immature while making decisions as their decisions are irrational and based solely upon primitive drives, aggression, and emotional experiences till adulthood. The immediate gratification of the "id" leads to deviant behavior. Deviant characteristics include lack of remorse, lack of responsibility for actions, lack of empathy, and manipulating behavior which is seen in the juveniles.
     
  • Psychosocial Developmental Theory
    According to Erik Erikson's psychosocial development theory, each stage results in a healthy personality and acquisition of characteristics and strengths. If these basic virtues are not built and their ego fails to resolve, a psychosocial crisis arises which can impact the development of a personality in a negative and a positive manner. Juveniles perceive themselves as rejected and inadvertent, which makes them incompetent to make trusted connections with people around them.
     
  • Subcultural theory
    In 1955, Albert Cohen developed the Subculture theory which is a culmination of several theories. It states that juveniles do not have a sense of belongingness and feel they do not meet the standards of the subculture and find ways to seek validation from other groups. They then turn to other juveniles who also feel the same which leads to the creation of a subculture group that does not meet any social standards. These groups have their own set of norms and act in an unlawful or adopt socially unacceptable ways to fit in the subculture.
     
  • Socio-Economic Theory
    Risk factors increase the likelihood of an individual committing an offense. Social environment, community, peer group, and genetics contribute to the risk factors for juvenile delinquency. Poverty and Juvenile delinquency have been linked. Jarjoura, et al, (2002) emphasized the relationship between poverty and delinquency. The children who have grown up in a low socio-economic environment and lacked resources from birth and age 5 or in early teenage years 11 to 15 years are mostly believed to get involved in violent and property-related offenses. It can be concluded from the above research that children who lack opportunities, resources, financial support, and physical and mental health services are more prone to delinquency.
     
  • Moffit's Dual Pathway Theory
    Moffitt (1993) emphasized two types of offenders. Life-course persistent offenders (LCPs) and Adolescence-limited offenders (ALS). Life-course persistent offenders LCPs are characterized by offenders beginning offending at an early age and continuing it across the lifespan. There is an early onset of problematic behaviors.

    Moffitt theorizes that ALs are the source where the offending behavior changes or discontinues. The reasons for offending can emerge due to puberty or LCPs peers. Here the offending is discontinued after a period of time mostly during adolescence.

    The behaviors will return to normal prosocial behavior during young adulthood when they reach the stage of autonomy after a period of time. They do not have a history of anti-social behavior in childhood.

    Neuropsychological deficits are often linked to antisocial behaviors. Moffitt states Neuropsychological deficiencies may be either a result of nature or nurture for LCPs. It can be traced back to the gestation period, a result of maternal drug abuse, exposure to harmful substances and toxins, and inadequate nutrition. Postnatal neuropsychological deficiencies may be due to inadequate nutrition, dysfunctional parenting style, neglect, and lack of security and affection.

    This can be explained by Object Relational Theory. This relates to the experiences during childhood with primary caregivers. The way they connect with the caregiver defines the development of the child. Here the child feels disadvantageous after birth and has fewer ways of socializing due to a lack of healthy and secure attachment from caregivers. This gives rise to the early onset of offending, and criminogenic behavior, and leads to pathological offending behaviors.

    Moffitt and Avshalom Caspi stated that Neuropsychological deficiencies are manifested in the form of difficult temperament, delayed speech and motor development, low social and intellectual functioning, lack of impulse control, Inattention, and hyperactivity.

    LCPs include isolation, offending, dysfunctional unhealthy family attachments, impairment in social, financial, and occupational functioning, and lack of impulse control resulting in school dropout.
     
  • Labeling Theory
    Another important theory was stated by Frank Tannenbaum, in the 1930s which explains the effects of labeling individuals. According to this theory, once the individual is labeled as deviant, they are most likely to behave in the same way. Labeling theory emphasizes social responses to crime and deviance. It states that no action is criminal in nature. Once labeling occurs the juvenile begins to engage in the same behavior which they had committed earlier.

    For example, if society labels the offender as a murderer or thief then he will engage himself in such types of crimes in the future. One of the reasons is a self-fulfilling prophecy. The picture of the current status of the government school is very important in India.

Current status of government schools:
 
Serial No Scheme Goal Advantages Disadvantages
1 Mid-Day Meal (MDM) Improvisation of the nutritional status of primary school children
  • The reduction of the drop-out rate of children in various schools.
  • It helps to overcome diseases and malnutrition by providing nutritional food.
  • Lack of proper implementation of the scheme leads to poor quality food;
  • Shortage of resources due to corruption;
2 Inclusive Education for Disabled at Secondary Stage (IEDSS, 2009-10) The objective of this scheme is to provide an inclusive environment and support for children with disabilities to complete their four-year secondary schooling
  • Special Educators are appointed for providing training to general teachers;
  • Medical and educational assessment, Therapy, teaching material, allowance for general teachers, and resources to promote a conducive learning environment.
 
State Government provides Rs 600/scholarship per child with disability per annum, which is insufficient.
3 Environmental Education (EE) by NCERT (2004, New Delhi) The objective was to promote and increase awareness about environmental issues and problems.
  • The positive effects are that it helps to make children aware of the interaction between a person and the environment, the practical nature of the subject, and the enhancement of problem-solving skills.
  • Mindful use of available resources
 
Lack of proper practical knowledge and implementation to protect the environment.
4 National Curriculum Framework (2005) The goals of this program are to promote physical fitness, teach essential body management skills, and also to develop teamwork, sportsmanship, and cooperation that help in the development of the child.
  • Special attention is given to the methods of elementary and secondary teaching with courses in exercise methods, athletic training, and nutrition.
  • Developing teamwork, and sportsmanship;
 
Lack of proper training for the supervisors.
5 Manodarpan was initiated by the Ministry of Education as a part of Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan. To provide Psychosocial support to students in the area of Mental Health during the COVID19 outbreak. To provide students and teachers psychological support during Covid19 in a more comprehensive manner.  
There are also different schemes available for the betterment of the students' health as well as sponsorship for education purposes. But what if the students are not motivated to come to school due to anxiety, anger, frustration, fear of name-calling, being victims of bullying, or sexual abuse, despite having all the facilities in schools?

There are several types of research available emphasizing that poor school performance has detrimental effects and contributes to the risk and frequency of delinquency, criminal offending, the seriousness of offenses, and the persistence of delinquency. Another research by Gottfredson (1987), focused on the negative effects attributed to deviant peer associations. Coie et al (1990) conducted research and found that peer rejection influences delinquency.

But it is very sad to ascertain that the Government does not feel the need to take care of mental health along with physical health. There is also a strong association between learning disabilities and juvenile delinquency. The labeling of the children in different ways moderates them to engage in delinquent acts. There was a greater number of male juveniles who were involved in those types of crimes and the percentage was above 99%. 91% of the juveniles had only received education till primary level.

The data showed that 45% of the juveniles involved in these cases had education between matriculation and higher secondary. 10% of the population involved in crimes were disabled. The most common cause behind the crimes is a lack of education.

Current status of Juveniles Homes in India:
Juvenile homes are the homes where children under the age of 18 are sent for committing crimes. The children are divided into two categories, the first is the Child in the Need of care and protection (CNCP) and the Child in conflict with the law (CCL) These homes are headed by the government. But if we really go deep into the system then we can clearly understand its lamentable condition of it.

There are a lot of controversies when a child is involved in heinous crimes and judgment has to be passed. The issue then becomes very sensitive to all of us as a child is involved in this kind of serious crime. We often talk about "restorative justice" but do we really follow it when it comes to reality?

Are these children provided necessary treatment and therapy as per the nature of the offense? All the children are kept together under the same roof which can add to other related problems. Example. a juvenile who committed a sexual offense or any violent offense is kept in the same place and undergoes the same treatment as the juvenile who had committed theft. Also, there is a high risk of bullying and forming up of gangs, and sexual assault by juveniles themselves inside the juvenile home at night when officially all the security guards are not around.

A study that was done by the Asian Centre of Human Rights showed several cases of repeated sexual assaults on children in these homes. The other articles mentioned that children who have committed even serious offenses also have not been provided with psychological training or counseling. It is also mentioned that some of the children are being maltreated, whipped, battered, and abused, by the security guards due to the stigma of the offense they have committed. before. The fund provided by the government is only Rs. 639 per child as monthly maintenance is not sufficient for them.

Even some of the children escape from the institutions for inhumane treatment. The severe negligence of the Government makes the children fall into the same pattern of delinquent behavior again.

It is a dire need to implement changes to focus on emotional health. Also, it is necessary to provide vocational courses available to the children where there is a chance of employment. Vocational training widens the scope of employment and helps to reduce recidivism. These issues should be prioritized along with the "Celebration of Children Day".

Future directions of schemes:
It can be seen from the above-mentioned research that school plays an important role in shaping one's personality and overall development of a child. Martin Dearlove, a famous child psychologist, mentioned in his research that when the scientists are recommending different recreational activities to build emotional and physical development through plays for a healthy lifestyle for the children, schools, and policies are pushing the children in an opposite direction toward the academics. There is a need to bridge the gap between the ideal setting and the real setting of the school which is increasing each year.

Though some private schools are focusing on the mental health of the children and arranging various programs to empower mental health. The private schools are also having a counselor or a psychologist to maintain the school-life balance. But it is not possible for most of the children to join private schools rather than the state government or the central government. So, if the state government takes the responsibility for the better transformation of the children, they can include some of the opportunities in their existing schemes.
  1. According to the National Association of School Psychologists, one psychologist should be taken for the assistance and guidance of every 500 to 700 students. The condition is a little bit different in most of the schools in the U.S. where one school psychologist is hired for every 1381 students. If the state government schools of India hire a psychologist or a counselor for each school who can deal with the various issues including their personal mental health-related issues then the children will be able to discuss their problems with them.

    Psychologists can guide them in a better way. The most common problems that can be seen in the early stages of life are conduct disorders, Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, Mood disruptive dysregulation disorder, depression, and communication disorder which can only be noticed by the psychologists, so if the psychologists start with the early intervention then the problem behaviors can be easily managed.
     
  2. According to an Indiana Education Policy Center study report(2000), zero tolerance improves behavior and also helps to deal with drug-related problems. The most prevalent problem in the school is bullying based on ethnicity, race, gender, and also drug smuggling.

    The school can deal with this kind of problem with a "zero-tolerance policy". It is a policy that requires a specific punishment for breaking a rule of law. The key point here is to remember that it is applied to the students based on the severity of their offenses with the aim to keep the children safer and prepare them for the real challenges they would face in the world.
     
  3. There are various resilience training programs in school. In the U.S Fostering resilience is implemented to help youth to build their personal development skills, and strengthen community action. One such program is "The American Indian Life Skills Development Curriculum" which is a Native American Based framework for life skills development and suicide prevention.

    A similar curriculum based on the Indian population can be incorporated into the state board to promote more positive health by engaging students in such activities. The Penn Resilience Program is very widely used in different schools around the world. Though it has been started in the USA still schools in the UK also use this program as it helps to build various real-life skills.
     
  4. In India Schools should be focused more on family engagement. It is often seen that parents have been called for guardian meetings for the academic performance in the schools, so rather than only calling to report about the performance, if the schools can encourage parent-child relationships from the primary school level, family well-being then it will automatically reflect in their academic achievement as well as better transformation. In Europe, different methods are used to support families of young children to provide them with a quality-based learning environment which leads to automatically promotes holistic wellbeing.
     
  5. Competency Training is also very important at school levels. Teachers should focus mostly on the positive aspects of the competent areas of the students rather than the negative outcomes. Finland, Germany, Norway, South Africa, Netherlands, and Norway have developed the competency framework based on their country's needs. India should also follow this kind of approach.
     
  6. The concept of Inclusion in primary level schools is also very much needed. Inclusion refers to the education where children with special needs with the other children have the opportunity of studying together in the same class and learning from each other. Nowadays we are aware of different disorders and we are honoring them on a special day.

    But if we put forward the idea of Inclusive Education practically, then it will actually help to reduce the stigma and also make the other people aware of the challenges faced by the children with special needs. Inclusion helps the children to be empathetic, build better group relations and formations, be empathetic, and understand individual differences. It also helps to reduce the barriers created for the children in relation which limits their potential growth.

    It helps to enhance employment opportunities which will make them independent in the future and open new areas for them. Finland has the best inclusive education system. Even Japan and Denmark also have inclusive education systems, which might be the other reason for the lowest crime rate among those places.

Challenges: The problem with implementation:
There are several loopholes in the Indian Education System, not only with the stigma related to mental health issues but also with the policies, programs, and literacy rate of females and males all over India. Several programs have been initiated to deal with the problem of the universalization of elementary education in India.
  1. Some of the schools in rural areas have very poor infrastructure. So, if the schools do not have the basic structure of an ideal classroom like proper sitting arrangement, ventilation, hygiene, restroom, and playground then how can we expect them to share their mental health issues ignoring the physical ones?
     
  2. Another persistent problem in India is the availability of resources and the allocation of the resources in various places based on the needs.
     
  3. There is a high rate of unemployed people even after undergoing proper education. This creates a negative belief system in the children and discourages them to study further and pursue basic and higher education. States like Goa, Tripura, and Himachal Pradesh have a high literacy rate but the employment ratio is very low. It will automatically make the adolescents languorous about going to school. Several studies explained the effect of the unemployment rate on Delinquency and related persistent problems (Fleisher,1963).
     
  4. The existence of a reservation policy in India also contributes to crime. The term "reservation" itself is a prejudiced term that affects a lot of people. Several people in India are only victims of crimes related to casteism. Parents have a negative attitude and pass on the same about the reservation policy to their children which creates a sense of building the negative beliefs and ingraining irrational thoughts among them. States like Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh are still conservative about the caste system where students from scheduled castes are restrained and not allowed to avail education and enroll in school. The problems with the reservation policy should be dealt with first to solve other problems related to mental health issues.

Conclusion:
The above-mentioned factors should be taken into consideration for the implementation of the various programs related to mental health. These programs should focus on building emotional resilience, developing a positive self-image, and self-esteem for adolescence, and increase in pro-social behavior wherein they do not get driven by external forces. The negative experiences in school contribute in many ways to increasing the rate of delinquency such as theft, drug smuggling, money forgery, etc.

It may begin from small risk-taking behavior in peers, formation of gangs, and peak to violent offenses if not given attention at an early stage. At the stage of adolescence risk-taking behavior, and attention-seeking behavior contributes majorly to juvenile delinquency. There has to be a shift from the unlawful, difficult problematic behaviors in adolescence which are at greater risk of delinquency.

This should be altered to prosocial behaviors and goal-directed behaviors which is possible if certain changes are implemented in the school settings. Government should address these issues for the better future of the children in India. We should always remember the famous quote of Harry Hall, "Crime Prevention is everybody's business".

References:
  • Cullen, F. T., & Wilcox, P. (Eds.). (2010). Encyclopedia of criminological theory (Vol. 1). Sage
  • Dave, D. (2019, May). Teaching Environmental Studies as a subject in Higher Educational Institutions.https://www.thehighereducationreview.com/magazine/teaching-environmental-studies-as-a-subject-in-higher-educational-institutionsns-QJRW74988993.html.
  • Gaur, P.(2019, May 11). Indian Schools Need Counsellors As Mental Illness Strikes Early In Children.https://www.indiatimes.com/news/india/indian-schools-need-counsellors-as-mental-illness-strikes-early-in-children-367015.html.
  • Hirschfield, P. J. (2018). The role of schools in sustaining juvenile justice system inequality. The Future of Children, 28(1), 11-36.
  • Jarjoura, G. R., Triplett, R. A., & Brinker, G. P. (2002). Growing up poor: Examining the link between persistent childhood poverty and delinquency. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 18(2), 159-187.
  • Josephine, M.S. & S. P (2013, December). Physical education is compulsory in schools under State board.https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/physical-education-compulsory-in-schools-under-state-board/article25728808.ece.
  • Krishna, K.(2020, April 8).Internship Experience at Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission, Mumbai: A Visit to Juvenile Justice Homes in India #Must Read.https://www.lawctopus.com/internship-internship-experience-juvenile-justice-homes-in-india/.
  • KM, P. (2020, January 23). More than 99% of the Juveniles apprehended for crimes in 2018 are boys. https://factly.in/more-than-99-of-the-juveniles-apprehended-for-crimes-are-boys/.
  • Mid-Day Meal Programme. National Institute of Family and Health Welfare. 2009.Retrieved 28th July 2013
  • Mishra, A.(2018, January 31).Adult time for adult crime � The road to juvenile justice.
    https://www.scconline.com/blog/post/2018/01/31/adult-time-adult-crime-road-juvenile-justice/.
  • National Research Council. (2000). Education and delinquency: Summary of a workshop. National Academies Press.
  • Ramachandran, P. (2019). School mid-day meal program in India: past, present, and future. The Indian Journal of Pediatrics, 1-6.
  • Shader, M. (2001). Risk factors for delinquency: An overview. Washington, DC: US Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
  • Shetye, M.(2021, January 18). Despite lockdown restrictions, the crime rate saw a 17% increase in 2020.http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/80319485.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst
  • Singh, A.(2021, May 21). Centre To Give Rs 100 Each To Children Under Mid-Day Meal Scheme, Activists Allege Amount 'Insufficient'.https://thelogicalindian.com/trending/centre-to-provide-rs-100-to-children-under-mid-day-meal-scheme-28613.
  • Singh, M.(2020, September 26).4 Major challenges in the progress of Indian Education System.https://medium.com/@ManmohanS/4-major-challenges-in-the-progress-of-the-indian-education-system-6b3de30c13c3.
Written By:
  1. Nikita Tanpure and
  2. Chandreyee Roy

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