Deprivation, neglect remain key catalysts of juvenile crime

  • Faizan Haidar, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jul 13, 2015 01:47 IST
A majority of Delhi’s underage delinquents are dropouts with little support at home or school, says a child rights panel report. (Shutterstock Image)

Parental neglect, lack of education, poverty and absence of a support system, at school and home, are forcing juveniles into crime in the Capital, a child rights panel has said in a report to the Delhi government.

The report comes days ahead of the monsoon session of Parliament during which the Rajya Sabha is expected to take up a bill that seeks to allow children in the age group of 16-18 to be tried as adults for “heinous” crimes such as rape and murder. The Lok Sabha has already given the nod to the juvenile justice bill.

Lack of parental guidance and schooling emerge as the biggest reasons for children taking to crime in the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights report, a copy of which is with HT.

“Under achievement, truancy and low school attachment are reported to be the factors that are related to the fallout of children from school then poverty and other problems,” says the report expected to be made public during the week.

Only 25% of the 182 juvenile delinquents that the panel interviewed were in school at the time of committing offence. The number dropped sharply to 10% in the case of children involved in murder and rape.

The panel, tasked with protecting children and their rights, visited all the six juvenile and reform homes in the city. Typically, around 700 children live in these government-run facilities.

Law mandates that underage delinquents -- those below 18 -- be kept in special homes, and not prisons, to give them a chance to reform.

“A child who experiences neglect, non attachment, disruption etc at home tends to carry these to school,” says the report Why Children Commit Offences.

Virtually drawing the roadmap leading a child down the crime patch, the report says difficulties in the classroom lowered self-esteem and triggered poor behaviour that eventually led to school exclusion and ended in the child committing a crime.

As reported by HT on July 11, parental neglect and lack of schooling were among the problems that the juvenile convicted in the Delhi gang rape talked about to his counsellors.

The children, who performed poorly and were not supported by the school system to better their performance, showed disinterest in studies, the report says.

School and health facilities were the right of every child, said Rishi Kant, an activist with NGO Shakti Vahini that works with children. “The government must have good counsellors to groom the child so that he/she can be reformed into a better person,” Kant said.

According to the report, 20.9% of the children had never been to school, 29.1% of them had some primary education. Only 24.2% had gone beyond Class 5 but not higher than Class 10.

Over the years, crimes, especially heinous ones, committed by juveniles have seen a spike in the country, leading to calls for a more stringent law for juvenile delinquents.

National Crime Records Bureau figures say the share of crime committed by juveniles in Delhi rose from 4.09% in 2012 to 5.01 % in 2013. In 2013, 1,590 cases were registered against 1,144 recorded a year earlier. Though the rise is marginal, it is way higher when compared to bigger states such as Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.

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