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Exploring Juvenile Delinquency: Understanding the Causes and Seeking Justice in India

Author - Abdul Maoon Anwer


Juvenile delinquency refers to the crimes committed by minors. The crimes done by teenagers are generally done without having proper knowledge of it is opined that they know very little about the world and are not aware of repercussions of their actions.

Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 aims to replace the existing Indian Juvenile Delinquency Law, Juvenile Justice Act, 2000, so that juveniles in conflict with the law, involved in Heinous Offences, can be tried as adults. Juvenile here refers to those adolescents who have not yet achieved the age of majority or fall within the age group of 16-18 years.

Juvenile Crime is not naturally born in the child but it is largely present in him because of the surroundings that he is brought up in, his own absurd actions or simply lack of discipline and proper education.

The youth is regarded to be one of the greatest assets of a country. If this population is not well groomed the future of a country would certainly not be very bright. We as a whole have a moral as well as an ethical responsibility to provide all children with a healthy environment to study and grow in.

Who is a Juvenile?

According to Section 2(k) of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 defines “Juvenile” or “Child” as a person who has not completed 18th year of age. A juvenile is a young person who has not met a specific age as prescribed by the law of a country and doesn’t abide resemblance as a matured person who can be made legally liable for his criminal activities.

What is Juvenile Delinquency?

Juvenile Delinquency refers to participation of minors in illegal crimes. When a person deviates from the normal course of his social life his behavior is termed as ‘delinquent’. In other words when a juvenile’s actions prove to be dangerous towards the society and for him, he may be called a juvenile delinquent. The act of delinquency may include running away from home, use of inappropriate or vulgar languages, committing sexual offences etc.

Historical Background of Juvenile Justice System India

Earlier before the Juvenile Justice Act 1986, enacted by the Parliament to provide care, protection, treatment, improvement and rehabilitation to neglected or delinquent juveniles, the Juvenile Justice Act, 1960 was effective throughout the country, later , Juvenile Justice Act, 2000 was enacted, then the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 came into force on 30th December 2000 as the primary legal framework for juvenile justice in India.

This act was amended further in 2006 and 2010. In the background of Delhi gang rape on 16th December 2012 this law suffered a nationwide criticism owing to its helplessness against crimes where juveniles get involved in dreadful crimes like rape and murder but cannot be tried. The Juvenile Justice Bill, 2014 was then passed by the Parliament in December, 2015and it became the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015. It came into force from 15th January 2016. Under the Act of 1986, Section 2(a) defined the term juvenile is a "boy who has not attained the age of 16 years and girl who has not attained the age of 18 years". Meanwhile, India signed and ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), 1989, which treated a person as a juvenile who is below 18 years of age.

Some recent events o juvenile delinquency:

1. 17-Year-Old Kills Another Teen Month After Release From Juvenile Home In Delhi

2. Delhi Boy Detained For Slitting Throat Of Tutor Who Sexually Assaulted Him

In a rare order, a Delhi court has directed the prosecution of two minors, both around 17 years of age, as adults in a murder case, noting that the they were "emboldened" to commit the brutal crime after being let off early in another murder case

Children are expected to be obedient, respectful and have good virtues. However, due to certain circumstances, some children are unable to follow the set social and legal dictum. These children often get involved in criminal behavior which is known a Juvenile Delinquency or Juvenile Crime.

Juvenile delinquency, or youth crime, is a complex social issue with multiple contributing factors. It's important to recognize that there is no single cause for juvenile delinquency; rather, it often results from a combination of individual, family, community, and societal factors.

Here are some key causes of juvenile delinquency:

1. Family Factors:

-Family Structure: Children from single-parent households or families with inconsistent structures may face challenges in terms of supervision, discipline, and emotional support.

- Parental Involvement: Lack of parental involvement or supervision can contribute to delinquency. Parents who are not engaged in their children's lives may be unaware of their activities and friends.

- Parental Criminality: Children with parents who have a history of criminal behavior are more likely to engage in delinquency due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

2. Individual Factors:

- Psychological Factors: Mental health issues, behavioral disorders, low self-esteem, and impulsivity can contribute to juvenile delinquency.

- Educational Problems: Academic failure, truancy, and low educational attainment are linked to an increased risk of delinquent behavior.

3. Peer Influence:

- Peer Pressure: Adolescents may succumb to peer pressure to engage in delinquent acts to gain acceptance or approval from their peers.

- Gang Involvement: Joining a gang exposes youth to criminal activities and increases the likelihood of engaging in delinquent behavior.

4. Community Factors:

- Neighborhood Environment: Growing up in impoverished or high-crime neighborhoods can expose juveniles to violence and criminal role models.

- Limited Access to Resources: Lack of recreational facilities, quality education, and job opportunities can contribute to a sense of hopelessness and lead to criminal behavior.

5. Societal Factors:

- Media Influence: Exposure to violent or antisocial media content can desensitize youth to criminal behavior and influence their actions.

- Poverty: Economic hardship can contribute to delinquency as individuals may resort to criminal activities to meet basic needs.

6. School Factors:

- School Discipline Policies: Harsh and inconsistent disciplinary measures can contribute to a sense of injustice among students, leading to delinquent behavior.

- Bullying: Both victims and perpetrators of bullying may be at an increased risk of engaging in delinquency.

7. Substance Abuse:

- Drug and Alcohol Use: Substance abuse is strongly correlated with juvenile delinquency. Drug or alcohol use can impair judgment and contribute to criminal behavior.

It's crucial to recognize that these factors often interact and reinforce each other, creating a complex web of influences on juvenile delinquency. Prevention and intervention efforts should be multifaceted and address various aspects of a young person's life to effectively reduce the risk of delinquent behavior. Additionally, understanding and addressing the root causes can help guide policies and programs aimed at preventing juvenile delinquency.

Constitutional safeguard to children:

In India, the Constitution provides several safeguards and provisions aimed at protecting the rights and well-being of children. The relevant provisions can be found in Part III (Fundamental Rights) and Part IV (Directive Principles of State Policy) of the Indian Constitution.

Here are some key safeguards for children in the Constitution of India:

1. Right to Equality (Article 14-18):

- Article 15(3): Permits the State to make special provisions for children.

2. Right to Freedom (Article 19-22):

- Article 21: Guarantees the right to life and personal liberty, which is interpreted to include the right to a dignified life for children.

3. Right against Exploitation (Article 23-24):

- Article 24: Prohibits the employment of children below the age of 14 in hazardous industries.

4. Right to Education (Article 21A):

- Article 21A: Guarantees the right to free and compulsory education for all children in the age group of 6 to 14 years.

5. Directive Principles of State Policy (Part IV):

- Article 39(e) and 39(f): Directs the State to ensure that children are not abused and that childhood and youth are protected against exploitation and against moral and material abandonment.

6. Protection of Minorities (Article 29-30):

- Article 30(1): Provides the right to minorities, including children, to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.

7. Child Labour Prohibition (Article 24):

- Article 24: Prohibits the employment of children below the age of 14 in factories, mines, or other hazardous activities.

8. Right to Health and Nutrition:

- Although not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution, various health-related provisions indirectly contribute to the well-being of children, such as Article 47 that directs the State to improve public health.

9. Juvenile Justice (Article 15(3), 39(e) and 39(f)):

- Article 15(3): Allows for special provisions for children.

- Article 39(e) and 39(f): Directs the State to ensure that childhood and youth are protected against exploitation and against moral and material abandonment.

10. UNCRC Ratification:

- India is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), and the principles enshrined in the convention are considered an integral part of the constitutional framework.

Juvenile Justice in India

As of my last knowledge update in January 2022, the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 is the primary legislation governing the juvenile justice system in India. Please note that there might have been updates or changes to the law since then, so it's advisable to consult the latest legal sources for the most current information. Here is an overview of the juvenile justice system in India based on the information available up to January 2022:

Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015:

1. Definition of Juvenile: - The Act defines a "juvenile" as a person who has not completed eighteen years of age.

2. Juvenile Justice Boards (JJB): - JJBs are established at the district level and are responsible for adjudicating cases involving juveniles in conflict with the law.

3. Child Welfare Committees (CWC): - CWCs are established at the district level and are responsible for dealing with cases of children in need of care and protection.

4. Role of Police: - Special procedures are to be followed by the police while dealing with juveniles in conflict with the law, and the focus is on rehabilitation rather than punitive measures.

5. Probation Officers: - The Act emphasizes the appointment of probation officers who assess the needs of juveniles and provide social investigation reports to the JJB.

6. Rehabilitation and Social Integration: - The Act underscores the principles of rehabilitation, reformation, and social integration of juveniles. It aims to ensure their well-being and protection.

7. Juvenile Homes and Observation Homes: - Instead of regular jails, juveniles are to be placed in special facilities like observation homes and special homes, where they receive education, vocational training, and other rehabilitative services.

8. Adjudication of Cases: - The JJB, after inquiry, may pass various orders, including admonition, community service, probation, and sending the juvenile to a special home. For serious offenses, there is provision for trying a juvenile as an adult under certain circumstances.

9. Appeals: - The Act allows for appeals against the orders of the JJB, and in case the juvenile is tried as an adult, the appeal is to be heard by the Children's Court.

10. Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA): - The Act provides for the regulation of adoption and mandates the central authority, CARA, to monitor and regulate in-country and inter-country adoptions.

11. Child Protection: - The Act contains provisions for the protection of children, including measures for preventing and addressing child abuse and exploitation.

12. Child-friendly Procedures: - The Act emphasizes child-friendly procedures during legal proceedings and aims to ensure the dignity and well-being of the juvenile.


In conclusion, juvenile delinquency is a multifaceted social issue influenced by a complex interplay of individual, family, community, and societal factors. Understanding the root causes of juvenile delinquency is crucial for developing effective prevention and intervention strategies. It is evident that family dynamics, peer influence, community environment, and broader societal issues all contribute to the risk of youth engaging in delinquent behavior.

Efforts to address juvenile delinquency should not solely focus on punitive measures but, rather, should prioritize rehabilitation, education, and community support. Prevention programs that target at-risk youth, provide positive alternatives, and address underlying issues such as poverty, lack of educational opportunities, and mental health concerns can significantly contribute to reducing juvenile delinquency rates.

Moreover, collaboration among families, schools, communities, and law enforcement is essential to create a holistic approach that addresses the diverse needs of young individuals. By investing in resources that promote positive youth development, mental health support, and educational opportunities, societies can work towards breaking the cycle of delinquency and fostering the well-being of the next generation.

In shaping a future where juvenile delinquency is minimized, it is imperative for policymakers, communities, and individuals alike to prioritize proactive measures that empower young people, provide support structures, and create environments conducive to their growth and success. Ultimately, by embracing a comprehensive and empathetic approach, societies can foster environments that guide youth towards constructive paths, nurturing responsible and law-abiding citizens for the benefit of all.

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