US School shooting – Juvenile Crime and Its Dangers

May 7, 2015, 2:35 am

Juvenile crime, formally known as juvenile delinquency, is a term that defines the participation of a minor in an illegal act. A delinquent is a person who is less than 18 years of age and commits an act which would have been called a crime had he or she been an adult. Legal systems generally treat such cases differently than that of adults considering, of course, the severity of the crime and how it has been committed. Delinquents are usually sent to juvenile detention centers and trialed at special courts.
For the past few years, juvenile crime has been rampant. The average age for the act of first crime has dropped noticeably. About 60 to 80 % of the adolescents and pre-adolescents get involved in offenses like status offense, property crimes or even violent crimes. The percentage of juvenile delinquents is increasing at an alarming rate and is no less than a global concern today.
The recent Connecticut school incident in the United States of America has shaken people all over the world. 20 students (12 girls and 8 boys of 6 or 7 years of age) and 6 adults died when a gunman of 20 years of age, Adam Lanza, started firing at Sandy Hook Elementary School at Connecticut, about 60 miles from New York. He later killed himself after murdering his mother. Lanza was found dead next to a semi-automatic 223-caliber Bushmaster rifle, three guns and two pistols, all of which is said to have belonged to his mother.
Lanza walked into his mother’s classroom at around 9:30 am and fired openly. Cops said that a “mind-numbing” number of cartridges were found on the floor of the school.
Carver, the medical officer, who performed the autopsies on seven of the victims, said the wounds were possibly caused by a “long weapon”, which on being asked by journalists, he confirmed to have been made by a rifle.
Juvenile crime has also seen a spurt in India during the last decade. The chief factors responsible for increasing juvenile delinquency in India are peer pressure, rich lifestyle, curiosity and parents’ indifference. The rich-poor divide in India is considered to be instrumental in promoting youth crime. While children from poor families take up criminal ways to support themselves and their families, children from rich families do it for fun or some extra pocket money! The revenge factor behind juvenile offenses is also not to be ignored.
The last decade has seen a huge leap in the rate of juvenile offenders in India. According to a recent report by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), criminal cases involving teenagers has gone up from 0.8% in 2001 to 11.8% in 2011. Crimes committed by people below the age of 18 have increased by 85% between 2001 and 2011.
It has further said that children arrested under Indian Penal Code and Special and Local Laws has increased from 30,303 in 2010 to 22,887 in 2011. In 2011, the overall involvement of children in crimes had leaped by 10.5% under IPC and 10.9% under SLL. Burglary, theft, wounding and riots form the majority of these crimes. Kidnapping and adduction cases involving juvenile offenders have increased from 354 in 2008 to 823 in 2011. Another important factor that NCRB has noticed is the increasing number of girl children being involved in crimes. The percentage has increased from 5.1% in 2010 to 5.8% in 2011.
Given that India is known to value friends and family, instances of children committing crimes against their own families come as a rude shock. These include children belonging to rich families with all comforts available as well as children working in factories. In September 2011, a school boy plotted the murder of his grandmother along with a friend. He was smart enough not to leave any finger prints on the murder-site and mislead the police into believing it to be a case of robbery.
On March 8, 2012, a teenager, Tejas Makwana, was arrested for stealing gold worth Rs. 11.5 lakhs from his grandmother’s home in January for taking his girlfriend out on a trip.
On April 12, 2012, a speeding teen biker ran over an on-duty policeman fracturing his arm.
On April 26, 2012, Faheem Qureshi was arrested for killing his mother by hitting her head with a metal vessel. The crime was committed because she refused to give money to a drunken Faheem for buying more bottles of alcohol.
Another case happened on April 23, 2012 when a teenage boy killed his maternal aunt for disclosing the fact to his mother that he had borrowed 50 bucks. Consequently, his mother thrashed him and in a fit of revenge, he killed his aunt with a pair of scissors.
A very recent case in October 2012 involved a 16 year old Delhi boy who killed a 4 year old boy. He stabbed the victim over 30 times with a pair of scissors.
Ever-increasing population, poor economic conditions, poor literacy rate and unhealthy family conditions like violence and alcoholism etc. influence the upbringing of a child and determine whether a child will finally turn into a criminal. The present social disorganization is one of the major reasons for pushing children into the world of crime. Families are isolated in the present times, with both parents working and the child left alone at home. This results in the development of grudges against parents in children and a growing intimacy with friends. This makes them vulnerable to getting into bad company which motivates them to commit crimes.
The sharp distinction between rich and old children also attracts children to criminal activities because it offers quick money with which they can satisfy their wants.
Some children commit crime for the sake of it. They like to experience the thrill involved in the act. It also lends them a macho image among friends. Adolescent boys often commit crime just to prove their masculinity before friends.
Substance abuse is another significant reason for increasing juvenile delinquency in India. Illegal drugs are costly for which they need money. Crimes like thefts and burglary gives them quick money with which they buy drugs and alcohol.
Certain mental disorders that involve difficulties in the regulation of emotions and impulsive behavior make children prone to criminal behavior. Even depression can lead a person to adopt criminal ways. It acts as a vent to one’s suppressed anger and aggression. Treating such disorders can help them keep away from criminal activities. But the question is who will take the responsibility of such children?
Such children going to school makes the other children in the school vulnerable to their criminal impulses and whims. Such a child can fatally hurt a fellow student in a fit of anger or hold an entire school hostage for getting attention and to prove his worth. Much worse, they can motivate other children into pursuing their criminal ways.
Juvenile delinquency can be stopped at an early stage, provided care is taken both at home and at school. Parents and teachers play a significant role in nurturing the mind of a child. Instead of labeling them as ‘delinquents’, steps must be taken to rectify them by rectifying the errors in their lives, involving both social and psychological. Nobody is a born criminal, it is circumstances that make him or her so. Hence, the solution lies in mending the circumstances. This incident spells nothing but endless violence. What could have driven a 20 year boy to unleash such terror? This brings us to the question of the frame of mind those delinquents’ posses. (Writer can be reached at – www.lifeskillsathiqul.com017 )

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