Children have complained that they had been tortured by the police before they were produced before the Juvenile Board. The police have a role to rehabilitate them and not antagonise them further. Baburaj Palladan,Director, People’s Legal Forum

Broken homes, lack of parental affection and security, lack of family ties, besides divorce and separation of parents are contributory factors to delinquency of juveniles, reveals a sample study carried out by the Empowerment of Children and Human Rights Organisation (ECHO), a Centre for Juvenile Justice, Bangalore.

The study ‘Root Causes of Juvenile Crimes’, carried out in collaboration with the Department of Women and Child Development and the UNICEF, and prepared earlier this year, has analysed the cause for juvenile crimes. It has covered 2,500 boys, who had been in custody of the Observation Home for Juveniles in Bangalore for some time over the last eight years.

The study revealed that a majority — 94 per cent of the boys — were not under parental care. Also, about 89 per cent of them came from poor economic background. The study states that those facing economic stress in their day-to-day lives are forced to work at a young age where they get in touch with anti-social groups.

Baburaj Palladan, Research Consultant of the report and Director of People’s Legal Forum, said that most of the juveniles are school dropouts and come from families below the poverty line.

Age group

As per the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act – 2000, a juvenile is recognised as a person below 18 years. Interestingly, 73 per cent of juveniles involved in crimes belong to the adolescent age group — between 16 and 18 years. The study states that the largest number of juveniles — 57 per cent of them — committing offences are 17.

In the category of seriousness of offences, the highest percentage of crime committed is murder with 16.01 per cent of the 2,500 children allegedly committing it, followed by 5.62 per cent booked for attempt to murder.

Treatment given to juveniles

The report states that the police who work with the juveniles are not trained in juvenile rights or child psychology. During focus group discussions, the children have complained of police torture and of “foisting” a case on them if they had committed offences in the past, Mr. Palladan said.

Recommendations

The report states that 23 per cent of the juveniles had never received formal education and 14 per cent completed tenth standard.

A majority of the welfare schemes such as the Public Distribution System, employment, skill development and legal aid service have not reached the juveniles and their families. It recommends training and orientation on the psychology of children and the Juvenile Justice Act and related procedures for lawyers and the police. The report has also recommended that the gram panchayat and city corporations should maintain the database of children under the jurisdiction in order to monitor their progress.

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