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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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:
||Mid-Day Meal (MDM)
||Improvisation of the nutritional status of
primary school children
- The reduction of the drop-out rate of children in various
- It helps to overcome diseases and malnutrition by providing
- Lack of proper implementation of the scheme leads to poor
- Shortage of resources due to corruption;
||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
- Medical and educational assessment, Therapy, teaching material,
allowance for general teachers, and resources to promote a conducive
|State Government provides Rs
600/scholarship per child with disability per annum, which is
||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
- Mindful use of available resources
|Lack of proper practical knowledge and
implementation to protect the environment.
||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
- 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
||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.
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
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
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.
Challenges: The problem with implementation:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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
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.
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.
- 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
- Another persistent problem in India is the availability of resources and
the allocation of the resources in various places based on the needs.
- 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).
- 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
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
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".
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- Nikita Tanpure and
- Chandreyee Roy
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