Why the increase in Juvenile Delinquency?

I am sure that each one of you is equally perplexed as I am reading and listening about the multiple incidents of juvenile delinquency including the 2012 Nirbhaya rape case and the very recent Ryan School murder case.

I understand that one minor is held for rape every four hours on an average in India. There were 6,039 arrests between January 1, 2014 and December 31, 2016 (that’s one arrest every 4.3 hours). One minor is apprehended every two hours for assault on women with intent to outrage their modesty. 23,25,575 cases were registered against juveniles under IPC crimes in 2011. The number steadily rose to 29,49,400 in 2015.

These statistics are from National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB)‘s annual data compilation for 2015 and 2016.

One in every two children is a victim of sexual abuse and yet we don’t want sex education to be a part of the education system.

Another headline that shocked me on Children’s Day is Offences against children increased fourfold in last two years.

“A total of 89,423 crimes against children were reported in 2014. The number went up to 94,172 in 2015 and 1,05,785 the next year, according to a report by India Today.

Between 2014 and 2016, the number of crimes recorded under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) went up from 8,904 to 35,980 – a fourfold jump, the report says.”

Last year, two juveniles shot dead an Uber driver and dumped his body. This morning I read about an 18-month-old raped by a 21-year-old.

Sociologists and Psychologists across the nation have been pointing out that this issue is not just a sociological one but a psychological one too. Some of the most common causes associated with juvenile crimes are: Poverty; Drug Abuse; Anti-social Peer Group; Easy availability of firearms; Abusive parents; Single-parent child; Nuclear Family; Family Violence; Child sexual abuse and Role of Media.

During the Nirbhaya trial the juvenile who was said to have been the most brutal of the lot had months left to be 18-years-old, yet he was tried as a juvenile and I understand that he is now reformed, rehabilitated and is walking free. While I have no mercy for this man and the many others like him, I do really want to look at why these children are behaving the way they are and if there are ways we can correct them.

Deteriorating of emotional connect due to lack of time – However much we deny children are deprived of their childhood and their time with their family members in this fast-paced world. There is usually no time left for social gatherings or family outings which help strengthen the one-to-one bond between family members. We ought to manage our time to include daily family time wherein everyone has the freedom and excitement to share their achievements, insecurities, fears and problems. The best possible way is to have breakfast or dinner together. If not, an evening snack.

Easy access to media and gadgets – I wish people in India took the PG (Parental Guidance) ratings seriously and control what the child has access to. The next big culprit being the easy access to internet and unmonitored Apps and videos. Children are sensible enough to understand that there are certain things that one can have access to depending on the age. If dealt with maturity this can be instilled in the child conveniently and without having to lie about anything. The more you lie or hide from them, the more anxious and curious they are. Remember, forbidden fruit is the sweetest.

Cinema and Television – All that a media house or television company now cares for is TRP. The concept of Prime Time has gone for a toss. As young children (mostly latch-key kids) browse through the hundreds of channels that are now available, all they witness is the glamorization and of sex and glorification of violence. While I do not justify the extreme censorship of movies by the censor board, I do urge parents to set controls on what your child watches in your absence. Getting children interested in reading or engaged in a creative activity of their choice will be a much better option.

Neighborhood Watch – I am an old school girl. We (my younger sister and myself) were raised single-handedly by our mother who was a school teacher. We were left alone at home all by ourselves on many days since the tender age of five. But, there were neighbours who would keep checking on us every now and then. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration if I say that I am more comfortable and close with many of my neighbourhood aunts and uncles than many of my family members. This is something that is lacking these days. Most families are nuclear and live in flat accommodations where nobody is interested in anybody else’s life. There needs to be a sense of community, a sense of familiarity and emotional connect between people. This is what children these days lack. We hear so many cases of death or depression due to loneliness. These are easily preventable if proper community recreation and gatherings are organised from time to time.

Lack of Physical Touch or Care – You read that right. Often times we tend to ignore the power of touch or of speech. A loving hug, a goodnight kiss or an encouraging compliment can do wonders to your child’s emotional requirements. It instills a sense of security in them and makes them feel loved and cared for. A sense of moral and social values should be instilled in them since the very beginning. Most importantly, we must lead by example as parents and elders.

Undoubtedly, every delinquent child is a victim of his/her circumstance. No one is a born criminal. Circumstances make him/her so. Socio-cultural environment, both inside and outside of home, plays significant role in shaping one’s life and overall personality. So it is our duty, as parents, teachers, relatives, guardians, friends, to guide these vulnerable children onto the right path. It is important to remove the bad from the individual and not the individual. Children should be allowed and provided opportunity to grow up in a healthy socio-cultural environment so that they could become responsible citizens, physically fit, mentally alert and morally healthy.

I would love to know if there’s anything to add to the above list to help/correct our children well in time. I am sure we do not want to see another child accused of raping, murdering or abusing anyone. Do we?

Being Tolerant

As a parent, what is your biggest worry for your child? What are your expectations from him/her?

Being an academic topper?

Shine brightly in extra-curricular activities?

Be the Numero Uno in everything under the sky?

Parents these days have a lot of expectations from their offspring.

The argument: “We slog a lot to provide the children with the best of everything.”

Well said.

But my question: Are you sure that that is exactly what your child wants too? Have you ever tried to understand what are his/her interests? Have you ever tried to locate whether he/she is happy with the path you’ve mentally charted out for him/her? 

Mostly the answer is NO. Of course, what does a toddler or a primary school-er know about dreams and aspirations!

In this war of making our child the very best in the world and achieving our unfulfilled dreams through our children, we have all forgotten a very important thing. We have forgotten to teach them to be good human beings. We have forgotten to teach them that failure is not the end of the road. Rather it is a very important lesson. It teaches us to value every small success of ours. It also teaches us to work hard the next time. It also makes us face the treatment from others and helps us realize why it is important to support each other in tough times. It helps us realize the importance of tolerance. The ability of children to accept differences puts them in an ideal position to learn tolerance.
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Learning tolerance starts at an early age (do click the link and read)

That is so true. I read this beautiful article and am sharing a small snippet here.

What is tolerance? Tolerance represents the respect of the freedom of the other in terms of its different mode of thinking and behavior. Regarding religious diversity, Larousse dictionary defines tolerance as an attitude of respect for those who have a different religion or religious doctrine. In other words, although I do not share your religious faith and practices, I respect you as a person. But not any behavior must be accepted. According to human rights, UNESCO stresses the idea that the practice of tolerance does not mean toleration of social injustice or to renounce to your own beliefs.

Why should we teach children the tolerance? Education for tolerance should aim at preventing discrimination and marginalization, which are common forms of intolerance. UNESCO argues that tolerance education should help young people to develop their ability to think critically and ethically.

In almost all the kids (including mine) that I meet these days I have seen this urge to stay at the top. It is the parents themselves who provoke the children to resort to unlawful means to achieve their goals. They are so focused on that top position that they fail to realize that there are positions beneath it. They have not been taught that if they don’t get onto the top position, life does not end. They have not been taught to respect others. They tease those who fail to reach the top position. People argue that there is so much the children have to do and so we must not engage in teaching them about accepting failure. They say that it’ll make them lose focus from their goals. But is that true? I doubt.

Do you know why the suicide rates are increasing every year?

Do you know why we are witnessing more and more school/street deaths/crimes every year?

Do you know why the number of divorces are on a rise?

I sincerely believe that it is because we aren’t teaching our youngsters to be tolerant. We are equipping them with everything else but this important tool. Why else will a husband send a divorce notice to a wife who is five minutes late in bringing pappadam to the dinner table? Why else will a youth stab another youth for playfully walking in front of his moving car? Why else will a boy shoot a shopkeeper for telling him that Lays chips is over?

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Another article worth sharing is What Happens in College Starts in Kindergarten. The title says it all. Doesn’t it?

Last year my daughter participated in the Open Delhi Judo Championship, reached the finals and won a bronze medal. She was surprised to see both her dad and me congratulating her and being proud about her achievement. She asked us if we weren’t upset that she didn’t win a gold. When we told her that we were happy that she participated and did her best irrespective of her position she was even more surprised.  Later she told us that her friend who won silver was so scared of going back home because her mother would punish her for not winning gold. I know the child and her mother and I confess that her expectation from the kid is mammoth. I have seen the lady blaming and accusing teachers during PTM when the girl loses a mark or two in any of the subjects or scores anything less than A+. What kind of a role model is she being to the child? What is the use of the exceptional results if your child feels scared to even talk to you?

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It pains to read headlines like these:

8-year-old shoots, kills elderly caregiver after video game

Teenager shoots one person dead at Washington high school

Two Nagaland youths racially abused, beaten in Gurgaon

Under-18s commit a quarter of all crimes

Bangalore: Minor rapes 3-year-old, victim critical

More youngsters turning to crime

Boy shoots classmate dead in Gurgaon school

Acid attack on four minor sisters in Chhattisgarh

With all this competitiveness, I feel we have lost on morality. The ability to distinguish between right and wrong or good and bad. We have ignored the need to pass on moral lessons to the next generation. It is very important to make them understand the need to co-exist. It is necessary to make them value what they have. It is important to make them respect the other person for who they are. It is equally important to let them know that their failure is not end of the road, but a sign to take a different path or pursue the same path with more effort and dedication.

Do we want more such headlines on crime by youth or can we take time to change the scenario in whatever little ways possible? Change begins at home.

Bearing grudges and seeking revenge doesn’t do anything good. Holding on to this resentment will only make us a prisoner of our own venomous thoughts.

If I were to choose one superpower I would have chosen to get into the minds of young children and make them more tolerant and respectful towards fellow beings. But since there is no such possibility I’ll try and educate as many children as possible on being tolerant and accepting defeat and failure gracefully.

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Today’s Project 365 prompt is

You get to choose one superpower. Pick one of these, and explain your choice: the ability to speak and understand any language, the ability to travel through time, or the ability to make any two people agree with each other.