Juvenile Justice

In a society like ours, where childhood and innocence are invariably linked, what gives rise to crime among children? To identify the root of this issue, it is necessary to probe a little deeper into our concepts of ‘childhood’. This, either by stepping into the shoes of a child who develops his or her sense of self based on societal pressures and expectations, or even just by going back to our childhood days.

To begin with, a child starts forming an identity, a sense of self, by exploring the world around him or her. This child shapes himself or herself based on the very strong influences of family and society. He or she learns that he or she will have to live up to certain expectations. These expectations are set by the society and the family based on popular notions which may or may not be healthy for the child. But being commonly accepted, the child is taught at a very young age, through his or her interactions with people around him or her, that these are the ideas that the child must believe in. For example, a child who wants to be a bus conductor is taught that it is a ‘lowly’ job and does not fit in the kind of role the child is expected or ‘supposed’ to play in the society.

Though this may seem to be a very trivial matter, this hinders the process of the child developing an identity for himself or herself, and forming interests, passions and beliefs which form the basis for the child’s sense of self. When this sense of self is built on such a shaky foundation, is it any wonder that it comes crashing down at some point of time? A minor is always looked down upon as one who cannot take decisions for oneself. This kind of undermining the child’s status also builds up resentment in the child.

So how does this connect to juvenile delinquency? Its pretty simple. These societal influences are the ones that shape a child’s behaviour. So now we can say that if a child indulges in crime of any sort, a major chunk of the responsibility must be borne by the...