Term Paper “Juvenile Delinquency “
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The prevalence of antisocial and delinquent behavior in juveniles has increased dramatically over the past decades, along with the prevalence of other health-endangering behaviors, such as substance use and suicide. These trends have been accompanied by increased levels of psychiatric admissions and special classroom placements in schools. It is posed that these changes reflect decreased levels of impulse control by children living in the U.S. This paper focuses on impulse control as it relates to antisocial and delinquent behavior in juveniles. It traces the development of these behaviors through their age-specific manifestations, and summarizes known social and biological risk factors. The paper examines how different risk factors impinge on the development of antisocial behavior at different points in the life cycle.
Developmental sequences are reviewed leading to serious antisocial behavior or to assistance of the behavior. The interaction between developmental tasks and the emergence of antisocial behavior is considered. Critical, “sensitive” periods in development often intersect with the increased prevalence of risk factors at certain age periods of children, leading to the emergence or aggravation of antisocial behavior. The use of empirical developmental knowledge for screening of population of youngsters is highlighted. The paper closes by reviewing how treatment and preventive studies are affected by pre-existing risk factors, and then lists priority areas for future survey and process studies, and for improved intervention efforts.
Table of Contents
- Factors of delinquent
- Dealing with Juvenile Delinquency
- Preventing Juvenile Delinquency
- Specific Objectives
Discussion and Conclusion
Juvenile delinquency, also known as “juvenile offending”, is the act of participating in unlawful behavior as minors (juveniles, i.e. individuals younger than the statutory age of majority). Most legal systems prescribe specific procedures for dealing with juveniles, such as juvenile detention centers and courts, with it being common that juvenile systems are treated as civil cases instead of criminal, or a hybrid thereof to avoid certain requirements required for criminal cases (typically the rights to a public trial or to a jury trial). A juvenile delinquent in the Nepal is a person who is typically below 18 years of age and commits an act that otherwise would have been charged as a crime if they were an adult. Depending on the type and severity of the offense committed, it is possible for people under 18 to be charged and treated as adults.
Nepal was one of the first countries to sign the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Nepal adopted its first ever juvenile law, the Children’s Act, in 1992. As opposed to the traditional system of the administration of juvenile justice, the Children’s Act has recognized the rights and welfare of the child.
There are approximately 30,000 street children nationwide, of whom 3,700 are children “of the street”, that is, children who actually both reside and work on the street. Studies show that the street children are both vulnerable and at risk. A survey of 100 street-child delinquents has revealed that, even though Nepal has been among the first nations to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child and has adopted the Children’s Act, the rights of children continue to be violated in the country. [ CWIN (1990), “Lost Childhood”, Kathmandu.] A case study is therefore presented to investigate how the juvenile justice system is administered in practice.
The local police in Kathmandu arrested 20 juveniles, all working and living in the street, on 27 June 1997. But the children were not aware of why they were arrested, nor did they know the crime they had committed. All the children were kept in police custody for a few days before they were transferred to the central jail. [Central Bureau of Statistics (1991)]
Delinquency exhibits a variety of styles of conduct or forms of behavior. Each of the patterns has its own social context, the causes are alleged to bring it about, and the forms of prevention or treatment most often suggested as appropriate for the pattern in question. Howard Becker (1966) has referred to following four types of delinquencies:
This refers to delinquency in which only one individual is involved in committing a delinquent act and its cause is located within the individual delinquent. Most of the explanations of this delinquent behavior come from psychiatrists. Their argument is that delinquency is caused by the psychological problems stemming primarily from defective/faulty/pathological family interaction patterns.
In this type, the delinquencies are committed in companionship with others and the cause is located not in the personality of the individual or in the delinquent’s family but in the culture of the individual’s home and neighborhood.
This type of delinquency refers to delinquencies that are committed by developing formally organized groups. These delinquencies were analyzed in the United States in the 1950s and the concept of ‘delinquent sub-culture was developed. This concept refers to the set of values and norms that guide the behavior of group members encourage the commission of delinquencies, award status on the basis of such acts and specify typical relationships to person who fall outside the groupings governed by group norms.
The above three types of delinquencies have one thing in common. In all of them, delinquency is viewed as having deep roots. In individual delinquency, the root of delinquency lies primarily within individual. In group-supported delinquency and organized delinquencies the roots lie in the structure of the society with emphasis either on the ecological areas where delinquency prevails or the systematic way in which social structure places some individuals in a poor position to compete for success. The situational delinquency provides a different perspective. Here the assumption is that delinquency is not deeply rooted, and motives for delinquency and means for controlling it are often relatively simple. A young man indulges in a delinquent act without having a deep commitment to delinquency because of less developed impulse control or because of lesser reinforcement of family restraints and because he has relatively little to lose even if caught.
1.3 Factors of Juvenile Delinquency
What causes juvenile delinquency or adult crime? There is no simple or straight forward answer available. Although criminal behavior sometimes has its roots in juvenile delinquency, many juvenile delinquents do not become criminals as adults. Further, many criminals have no prior history of juvenile delinquency. However, the range of offences, motivations and associated causative factors are much the same in both delinquency and crime and it may be appropriate to discuss them together. What impels some people, children, women and men to break social sanction or any law? Efforts have been made by a number of writers and researchers to understand the factors involved and they have discovered many: physical, emotional, psychological and environmental. It has not been possible to assign a single universal source nor even two or three. Crime flows out of a wide variety of sources and usually from a multiplicity of alternative and converging influences. Without contending that they will inevitably cause delinquency or crime, it is now accepted that certain conditions are more favorable to this causation than others. For example, physical deformity, mental imbalance, mental deficiency, emotional insecurity, a slum environmental stimulation to crime, etc., are obviously more favorable to anti-social behavior than their opposites. It is also true that any or all of these unfavorable conditions will not inevitably drive a given person to commit a crime in all circumstances. It is true that all seemingly favorable circumstances are no insurance against a person committing a crime. Hidden factors that tip the scale either way can never be eliminated from specific situations by all the theories of causation in the world. In this sort of perplexing situation then, what we can say, at best, is that the area of unknown regarding human behavior is quite substantial though some personal factors and some common social and economic conditions go hand in hand with the committing of crime and delinquency. And the impact of these factors, and their varying combinations, differ greatly from one individual to another. In some cases, the factors responsible may be more personal than environmental.
- Natural and Environmental Factors: poor health, chronic diseases, physical deformities may cause an inferiority complex
- Reality Versus Fantasy:
- Health and Disease:
- The Family: broken family, divorce/separation
- Child Care and Delinquency:
- Poverty in the Family:
- Social Environment
- Slum Neighborhoods:
- Earning and Schooling:
- Poverty and Low Income
Dealing with Juvenile Delinquency
The procedures followed in the juvenile justice system differ greatly from those followed for adult offenders. Each state has specific programs or systems that deal with juvenile offenders. Juvenile offenders come into police contact in number of ways. Some are caught committing a crime and arrested, others are referred to police by parents or school officials. Once the police have become involved, they may choose to deal with a juvenile offender in several ways. The police can:
- issue a warning and release of the minor
- detain the minor and notify the parents to pick him up
- refer the case to juvenile court
- arrest the minor and refer the case to juvenile court
If the case goes to court, the minor and the parents meet with a juvenile court intake officer. The intake officer can handle the case informally, referring the juvenile to a probation officer, he can dismiss the case, or he can file formal charges. When deciding whether to file charges, officers often consider:
- the offense
- the offender’s age
- the offender’s previous record
- the offender’s educational or social history
- the ability of the parents to control the offender’s behavior or seek help
If dealt with informally, the minor reports to a probation officer, and is given advice and ordered to perform community service, pay fines, attend treatment, or enter probation.
If charges are filed in juvenile court, the minor is arraigned, at which time his charges are read before a judge. The judge then decides whether to detain or release the juvenile until the hearing takes place. After appearing in court, three things are possible:
The minor may enter a plea agreement with the court. This often requires the juvenile to comply with certain conditions, such as attending counseling, obeying a curfew, or paying restitution.
The judge may divert the case, which means he retains control over the matter until the juvenile successfully completes treatment programs or performs community services. If the juvenile fails to comply, formal charges may be reinstated. In many cases the public prosecutors and lawyer also play vital role to divert the cases. Adjudicatory Hearing
The judge may decide to have an adjudicatory hearing, which is a trial in a juvenile case. While both sides argue the case and present evidence, a juvenile trial takes place in front of a judge, not a jury. If, at the end of the hearing, the judge decides the juvenile is delinquent, he may order punishments such as probation, community service, or even detention in a juvenile center.
1.5 Preventing Juvenile Delinquency
Prevention of juvenile delinquency serves at-risk youths, their families, and the public, as it can put a stop to the transition of juvenile offenders to adult offenders. Prevention services are offered by a number of government and private agencies, and include such services as:
- Substance Abuse Treatment
- Family Counseling
- Individual Counseling
- Parenting Education
- Family Planning Services
The availability of education, and encouragement of minors in obtaining an education, plays a large role in prevention of juvenile delinquency. This is because education promotes social cohesion, and helps children of all ages learn to make good choices, and to practice self-control.
The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (“OJJDP”) is just one agency that sinks resources into researching juvenile delinquency, and providing both prevention and rehabilitation programs. The agency also works toward reducing under-age substance abuse, and gang influence on minors.
- Specific objectives
- To identify the Juvenile delinquency
- To identify types of Juvenile delinquency
- Ways to help in Juvenile delinquency
For this term paper, secondary data will be utilized. Various journal, book and research articles will be reviewed to explore the child delinquency and try to find the ways to help in juvenile delinquency.
The following observations can be made, based on the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice (the “Beijing Rules”) and the UN Guidelines for the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency (the “Riyadh Guidelines”).
- The “Visit Nepal 1998” campaign was the main reason for the arrest and imprisonment of the 17 children. The Ministry of Tourism had launched the “Clean the Street Operation” for the benefit of the tourists. The arrested children were not criminals, but just happened to be street children, although Government officials did not want to acknowledge this cause officially.
- The Government used the Public Nuisance Act 1990 to administer the juvenile justice system and ignored the Children’s Act and the Children’s Regulation Act, which are the only laws directly related to children involved with the juvenile justice system.
- NGOs and their networking groups played a major role in the release of the children by both pressuring the Government and sensitizing the public regarding the juvenile justice system.
- The Children’s Act, in line with Article 40 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, has established a minimum age below which children are presumed not to have the capacity to infringe the penal law. Section 11 of the Act states that any child below the age of 10 is presumed to be innocent and is not liable to any punishment, while a child between the ages of 10 and 14 years is liable to a warning only or, depending on the nature of the offence, to imprisonment (limited to six months), and this through an appellate court. In this case all these provisions were ignored.
- Section 15 of the Children’s Act stipulates that no child should be subjected to handcuffs, fetters, or solitary confinement, nor should the child be put together with an adult prisoner in cases where the child has been convicted of an offence. These provisions were violated in this case.
- The Act further provides that no case of a child accused of violating the penal law should be heard or decided unless there is a legal practitioner present to defend the child and that the court should make arrangements for the services of a legal practitioner. The Children’s Act further provides that only a legal practitioner, the child’s parents, guardians or relatives, and persons or representatives of social institutions concerned with the protection of the rights and interests of the child may be present during the proceedings of a case related to the child. None of these provisions were followed. According to the Public Nuisance Act, the chief district officer has the power to decide the case and send the individual to jail without referring to the court.
- Section 55 of the Children’s Act deals with the constitution of a juvenile court for the trial of juvenile delinquents. In absence of a juvenile court, the district court is required to form a children’s bench which should include social workers, child specialists and child psychologists, besides the judge. According to Section 57 of the Act, priority has to be given to the hearing and decision in a case in which a child is the plaintiff or defendant. None of these measures were applied.
Although Nepal has signed the Convention on the Rights of the Children, is committed to the Beijing Rules and the Riyadh Guidelines and adopted the Children’s Act, the country is faced with many challenges with regard to the system of juvenile justice. This is confirmed by the above case study. While a lack of vision and the lack of commitment in action are two serious problems, the following are some other problems related to juvenile justice:
- Lack of awareness. The lack of awareness among people who deal with the rights of the child and child development is a major problem in the community. This is also true of Government officials and others who have been involved in development activities.
- Lack of understanding of the juvenile. The needs and behaviors of juveniles are quite different relative to other age groups, and even a small mistake by an adult in this regard can have a long-lasting negative impact. A failure to understand the needs and behaviors of juveniles can lead to major problems, but people do not have much understanding in this area.
- Lack of facilities. The juvenile justice system requires different types of facilities and programmes for minors (such as juvenile courts, correction or rehabilitation centres and free legal aid) to enforce the system effectively. This is lacking in the country. This is also not possible soon because of financial shortages.
- Lack of training. The training and orientation of people working with the juvenile justice system, such as police, lawyers, administrators and NGOs, are for effective enforcement of the system. They are lacking.
Discussion and Conclusion
The issue of juvenile delinquency is a serious issue in our society today which requires more attention since it determines the values of the next generation. Thus, this proves that the government and all other agencies and association whom have a role to play in solving this issue do so and with a lot of diligence. Parents and the society at large also have a duty and role to play in solving this menace. Juvenile delinquency should be prevented before it spills over to a level whereby it will be too late to do something about it. Every individual diligent should be treated separately since every individual will have different factors which influence their criminal behaviors. Different programs should be developed so as to ensure that the juvenile is rehabilitated to the highest desired level. New technologies and correction procedures should be invented to ensure that diagnosis of this issue is done earlier and if any disorder is discovered in a child then it is corrected. This will ensure that the number of juvenile delinquencies reported cases reduces completely.
The introduction of the Children’s Act and the Children’s Regulation is a major breakthrough in safeguarding children involved with the juvenile justice system, in line with the Convention on the Rights of the Child. However, in practice over 80 percent of the provisions of these Acts are useless.
The imprisoned children were innocent, but the Government victimized them and violated their rights in the name of “Visit Nepal 1998”, a major national event. There may be similar cases where innocent children have been victimized, but there is no law to compensate these children, nor can they take any action against the Government. What can one do about these innocent children since the Children’s Act and Children’s Regulation are silent?
There is still room to improve the existing laws and regulations. For example, the role of the chief district officer as the chairperson of the child welfare board is controversial. This arrangement should be reviewed based on the best interests of the child. The Government should be fully committed to the effective administration and implementation of the existing laws and regulations.
The level of understanding of the rights of children has increased in recent years as a result of the work of NGOs, child rights networking groups and the media, which have played a vital role not only in protecting the rights of the child, but also in sensitizing both the Government and the public. This should be considered a major achievement due to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
- Central Bureau of Statistics (1991), “Statistical Pocket Book 1991”, Kathmandu.
- Child Welfare Society (1996), “Situation Analysis of Street Children of Nepal”, Kathmandu.
- CWIN (1990), “Lost Childhood”, Kathmandu.
- His Majesty’s Government of Nepal (1990), Constitution of the Kingdom of Nepal 1990, Kathmandu.
- Law Books Management Board, Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, His Majesty’s Government of Nepal (1992), “The Children’s Act, 1992”, Kathmandu.
- The Nepal Gazette, His Majesty’s Government Press, His Majesty’s Government of Nepal, “Children’s Regulation”, Kathmandu.
- Gauri Pradhan, “Jail: No Place for Children”, CWIN, Kathmandu.
[Note: this is only for reference, do not copy the matters, from this document . this document is checked and approved by the respective invigilator. ]
Lok Raj Pathak is a Professional Computer Engineer and Technology enthusiast. He has completed Master in Science in Information Technology (M. Sc. IT) and Master in technology in Computer Science and Engineering (M. Tech. Eng). He usually writes in science and technology, life style and religion.