Juvenile crimes on the rise in India

 About three years ago I was drawn to an article published in Outlook under the heading Yukkies. The detailed article highlighted the reasons for the increase in crime in number of young urban youth. The disturbing report triggered the idea for my second fiction titled In Pursuit of Ecstasy is dedicated to the Indian youth. The reason I mention the above fact is because another similar article caught my attention recently published in India Today. Titled Young and Dangerous, it is the cover story in the latest issue of the magazine. The brutal gang rape and subsequent death of a young physiotherapy intern in Delhi has again brought into sharp focus the fact that increasing number of such ghastly crimes in the country are either directly or indirectly being committed by the youth. Let me share some of the horror figures with you to show how grim the scenario is –

– Rise in Juvenile crime in the nation between 2001 – 2011 – 65.7%
– Total Juvenile crimes in 2011 alone – 25,125
– Murders committed by Juvenile (all figures for 2011)

  • Maharashtra – 145
  • Madhya Pradesh – 112
  • Uttar Pradesh – 81
  • Rajasthan – 71
  • Andhra Pradesh – 64

– Delhi leads the Union territories in the percentage of rape cases committed by Juveniles – 96%
(Source – Cover story, Deadly Minors, India today, January 21, 2013)

The above figures clearly indicate that the percentage of young criminals is quite high and rising year by year at an alarming rate. The immediate questions that come to mind after reading such an article is how youngsters can commit such horrible crimes? What prompts them to resort to such insane acts of violence and crime without fear, guilt or remorse?
I think the reasons are manifold from influence of media, high aspirations and inability to realize them, greed for easy money, sexual frustrations, peer pressure, and the feeling that they can easily get away with it. But I feel the root cause of it all is a neglected childhood. The children don’t get the right kind of attention, love and care from their environment which they require while growing up. As parents, guardians and as a society we are failing them somewhere.

Let me focus on some of the remedial measures that might help us in controlling and reducing crimes committed by the youth.

Firm implementation of Right to Education – I am sure all of us agree that education is a very important tool in ensuring proper development of a child. In 2009 the Indian Parliament passed the much awaited Act of Right to Free and Compulsory Education, (RTE). However there is still a lot to be done on ground to make it a success. Private schools which must reserve at least 25% of their seats for the poor and underprivileged children are still shying away from fulfilling their responsibilities as it affect their profit levels. The awareness level among the common masses especially among the underprivileged section of the society about this right is quite low, consequently either they don’t send their kids to School or they are exploited badly. This must be checked. Sincere efforts must be made to educate each and every child in the country. In that way, The Teach India campaign started by Times of India group is a commendable move. We must have more such initiatives involving the relevant Government departments, corporate houses and the informed and educated citizens of the country. And as responsible citizens it is important to volunteer our time for such initiatives as much as possible.

Use media extensively to focus on and sensitize children/youth –Children are curious and experimental in nature. For the sake of curiosity they will do anything. Most of the children are influenced by what they see. It is important that the relevant Government departments, film makers, media and other social organizations collectively work together to come out with programmes, films, talk shows and other such information sharing events which focus on children and youth development issues. In fact, social networking sites can be quite an important tool to capture the attention of the youngsters. Besides that Government machineries and NGOs should not only highlight Child rights but also bring out the basic laws and rules that must be followed by the same group as young but active citizens of the country. They must be made aware that breaking laws is not a cool thing and can have serious consequences. Schools and Colleges must not tolerate bullying and other serious crimes committed by wayward students.

Zero tolerance for child labour – Child labour is still widely rampant in India. From the unregulated factories/companies looking for cheap labour, illiterate parents who want their children to contribute towards the family’s income to even educated people who don’t mind keeping young children as domestic help…all are exploiting and depriving children of their childhood. Spreading awareness, encouraging the parents of such children through information sharing together and other such strong measures are important ways in which we can reduce child labour.

Sex education and gender sensitization classes – Indian parents shy away from discussing sex with their children. It is because of our culture’s refusal to acknowledge the importance of sex education which has led to increase in sex related crimes in the country. The efforts made (if any), are half- hearted and small. However, we forget that the modern day youth (and children), cannot be controlled by just giving vague answers to their questions. Being overly strict with them also cannot work for long. As I have mentioned earlier they are curious and will do anything to satisfy that curiosity, even commit a crime like the one I was shocked to read about in the papers a few day back where a young School going boy raped a minor girl just to know what is meant by the term ‘rape.’ It is vital that sex education be made an integral part of the main curriculum, Schools can involve doctors, sex educationists, NGOs to directly interact with children and share information as well as listen to their concerns. Children feel less inhibited when they know they will not be ridiculed or stigmatized for their questions.

Counseling services at School – Most of the schools claim to have their own counselors. I doubt that. Not many take child counseling seriously. I feel maximum of the schools make do without them or merely do lip service in the name of counseling. Most of us ignore or overlook the vital fact that it is only at this stage when we can prevent and change a child’s wrongful behavior. If a child is found to be behaving oddly, is non communicative, not performing well in his/her studies or is repeatedly reported for his or her violent nature, it is the responsibility of the counselor together with the child’s parents to find out the root cause of the problem which is affecting the child and resolve it soonest possible.

Strong Juvenile Justice System – After the Delhi gang rape case in which I seriously doubt if the lone juvenile involved will be punished as severely as the other offenders despite the fact that he was the most brutal of all, raises serious questions about the current Juvenile Justice system. Like many others I too feel that the law must be updated and in keeping with the times and the needs. Also, in crimes committed by juveniles where he/she shows the mind set and acumen of a grown up person must be tried as an adult offender. We need to set good examples to act as strong deterrents for youth and others from repeating crimes such as the recent gang rape.

Sensitize the police force – The police plays a very important role in maintaining law and order and preventing crimes. However, recent happenings have clearly shown their weak response and negative attitude towards the public. It is no surprise that people of this country have very less faith in the police. Most of us want to avoid them at all costs. A lot of efforts, including gender sensitization trainings must be held to make the police force come across as people friendly and protectors of the law. Also, it would be a great idea if friendly matches or other such informal/friendly events can be held between the youth and the police once in a while to increase mutual respect and better levels of understanding between them.

We will reap what we sow so let’s make sure we sow good seeds.

Posted by Sujata Parashar 


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