Juvenile homes are meant to reform those on the wrong side of the law. But the lack of adequate facilities at such homes in the City seem to be doing more harm than goodRuhi Saraf email@example.com
Whether it’s two 16-year olds in Kolkata raping their friend’s sister and then casually leaving to play football, a Chennai school boy brutally stabbing his teacher for a negative comment in his report card or a teenage girl strangling and cutting her neighbour just for the kick of knowing how it felt to kill — it all comes down to a case of juvenile crime.
Juvenile crime is a social responsibility and it can’t be swept under the judicial table. Like elsewhere in the world, India has its share of cases that come under juvenile crime and the numbers are only increasing. According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, 30,303 juveniles were apprehended all over India in 2010 out of which 28,763 were boys and 1,540 were girls.
What is it that prompts these children to commit heinous acts of violence?
“There are two things that affect children which lead them to violence. One is the homeward anti-social or violent parents could pass on the gene. The other is taking cue from elders which includes violence portrayed in the media including cinema. If a child is around adults who behave inappropriately, often a child learns such behaviour and might imitate the same. Besides, if a child does not know limits or is not taught to value the feelings of others then they can easily behave in ways that are considered anti-social,” says Dr Diana Monteiro, counselling psychologist, Hyderabad Academy of Psychology.
The Juvenile Justice Act, 1986 is ‘an Act to provide for the care, protection, treatment, development and rehabilitation of neglected or delinquent juveniles’ but in reality the number of these children who were actually sent to special homes for treatment and to be taken care of are a mere 19 per cent of the total number of juvenile delinquents caught committing crime as per NCRB data.
Apart from that, most of these ‘special juvenile homes’ lack any kind of medical or psychological facilities as well as provision for proper formal education. So, when suddenly they are on the streets again with society frowning on them, it just makes them fall back to their old habits. It pretty much defeats the purpose of juvenile law which is ideally to counsel, divert and protect them from committing such crimes again. Another problem that could arise is that keeping innocent girls in the company of juveniles without counselling tends to influence them and they could get involved in criminal activities too.
“Any home with children needs to have a nurturing, warm and supportive environments where they are taught good social and personal values. The same applies to a juvenile home. The adults in these homes need to be good parents to these children. They need to be warm and nurturing as well as have high expectations of the child so that they engage in good positive behaviours.
If a child behaves badly, immediate consequences need to be in place and they should be punitive measure, but correctional and justified to the inappropriate act. Similarly, if a child behaves well, then their behaviour should be rewarded,” adds Dr Diana.
What City juvenile homes need
- The children in these homes need proper food, education and sports to motivate them to do something good in their life and never indulge in crime again.
- They need a powerful way to combat their deflated sense of self and to find a way to give them a creative and constructive outlet for their mental energy.
- They need extremely efficient counselling to help them deal and overcome their emotional conflicts.
- They need special programmes for their reintegration into the society.
- The society needs to face this reality with immediate attention and need to work on certain control measures.