A government study, released on Tuesday, has indicated that the biggest factor driving children to crime was poverty.
The study — titled Children in India-2012 — stated that around 57% of the 33,887 children involved in crime last year belonged to families with an annual income lower than Rs. 25,000. “There is a class bias in registration of cases against children,” said Raj Mangal Prasad of NGO Pratidhi. “Many offences by middle-class and upper middle-class children go unreported.”
The data, released by the ministry of statistics and programme implementation, shows that a majority of the children had committed the crime for money.They were involved in 5,320 cases of theft and 2,609 cases of burglary in 2011 — over double the number from last decade.
Prasad said that in most cases, the children were induced to commit the crime by adults because they were less likely
to be suspected. A Delhi Police officer said many auto-theft gangs in the capital recruit children.
Lack of education, however, could not be cited as one of the reasons for the increase because around 31% of the juvenile offenders were found to be students in primary or higher secondary-level schools. “Illiterate children accounted for only 11% of the number,” the report said.
A 2008 study by the Childline Foundation of India had stated that children from poor families are at a higher risk of getting sucked into crime, primarily due to lack of education and adverse socio-adverse conditions.