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Addressing juvenile delinquency

Juvenile delinquency is a relatively new addition in Bangladesh. However, the extent and depth of the problem are greater in urban areas than in rural areas. In urban areas juvenile gang has become a serious matter of panic for ordinary people.
Dr Matiur Rahman
Addressing juvenile delinquency

Juvenile delinquency is a terrible  problem in modern society. Rapid urbanization and industrialization are fueling juvenile delinquency in Bangladesh.

The problem is as old as it started to begin with the influence of industrialization in the present-day developed country. A rapid change in the type of family structure is creating an environment conducive to an increase in juvenile delinquency. The risky environment of cities and slums is a fertile ground for juvenile delinquency. Juvenile delinquency is one of the most multifaceted social problems in afflicted Bangladesh.

Determining the exact definition of juvenile delinquency is quite difficult. However, criminologists and sociologists have tried to define it in many ways. In a general sense, juvenile delinquency is a violation of established social values and rules by teenagers. It is a special type of abnormal or anti-social behaviour committed by adolescents below the age limit prescribed by law. Juvenile delinquency is all forms of anti-social behavior that is against the law. If it is not corrected in time, it can turn into a criminal tendency after puberty.

The nature and characteristics of juvenile delinquency are varied. Adolescents are easily overwhelmed by their surroundings and to be influenced in a short period without purpose, for curiosity or to express themselves in public. Sometimes, adolescents become emotionally involved in crime without thinking about its result. In the context of Bangladesh, there are various social problems such as poverty, unemployment, drug addiction, slums, child labour, etc. which lead to becoming an adolescent to involve in Juvenile delinquency.

Juvenile delinquency is a relatively new addition in Bangladesh. However, the extent and depth of the problem are greater in urban areas than in rural areas. In urban areas juvenile gang has become a serious matter of panic for ordinary people. The crime tendencies among the juvenile delinquents are found as disobedience of parents and teachers and leaving home without their permission; not showing respect to the elderly; teasing school-going girls; demonstrating extreme rudeness on the street or locality; travelling without a ticket by bus or train; beatings, robberies, harassment on the streets; running away from school, cheating in exams and making noise without any reason; incompatible physical relations; playground fights, antisocial conversations, cyberbullying, etc.

Many factors contribute to juvenile delinquency. Sociologists and criminologists have identified different causes of it from different perspectives. Hereditary causes are one of the most important of juvenile delinquency, because it is usually seen that if the father or mother of a family or both involved in criminal activities it impacted the teenage children of that family. Committing crime trend developed among them. From a biological perspective, it is said that defective physical shape and structure, inconsistency of the nervous system in childhood, etc. creates abnormal behaviour in children which leads to criminal behaviour.

Geographical factors are also responsible for juvenile delinquency. Criminal activities vary with different geographical features and seasons in different parts of Bangladesh irrespective of urban and rural areas. It has been observed that teenagers commit crimes in densely populated areas in a city because they can easily escape by committing the crime. Again, the presence of law enforcement forces in the hilly areas is less. So, there is a high tendency for the crime.

Economic factors such as poverty, financial inadequacy or lack of resources etc. are deeply contribute to almost all social problems in Bangladesh. Juvenile delinquency is no exception. A large portion of teenagers commits snatching, stealing, looting, kidnapping, ransom to raise money for drugs etc. due to the lack of money for their needs.

Environmental factors especially the social environment are also responsible for juvenile delinquency. In many cases, the environment in which children and adolescents live also plays a special role in becoming a criminal. Children and adolescents under the influence of depraved environments such as witnessing anti-social, illegal and criminal activities, themselves at one time became involved in that crime.

Family environment is also an important issue in this regard. In the case of marital quarrels, divorce, over-discipline or independence of children, unequal attitude towards children, lack of recreation, lack of religious education, lack of money can also lead to crime for children. Moreover, when the basic natural desires of a child are not easily fulfilled, he or she can try to achieve it in an unusual way which leads them to criminal activities. Moreover, lack of security, emotional frustration, deprivation, failure, inferiority, despair, hatred, desire for revenge, etc. is also responsible for juvenile delinquency.

Political factor is responsible for juvenile delinquency vastly. According to expert political reasons is a dominant element for juvenile delinquency in Bangladesh. Sometimes local leaders of political parties involve teenagers in pursuit of their narrow interests. They formed ‘juvenile gangs’ in the locality and provoke them to commit different types of crime. They invest money for this and give shelter to juvenile delinquents. Sometimes the juvenile delinquents got impunity by the grace of their elder brothers who are involved in politics.

Administrative factors are also responsible for juvenile delinquency. Procrastination, mismanagement of the correctional system, simultaneous imprisonment with adult offenders and so on lead to juvenile delinquency. In addition to the above causes of juvenile delinquency in Bangladesh, there are other reasons as well - loss of social bonds; lack of proper socialization; lack of social, religious and moral education; social lawlessness; corruption; imitation; infiltration of subcultures; lack of conducive environment in educational institutions; unequal living of rich-poor; lack of proper entertainment; and misapplication of the law, etc. Moreover, during the Covid-19 pandemic due to the closures of all educational institutions, a large portion of the students dropped out and was involved in juvenile delinquency.

At present juvenile delinquency is not limited to traditional crimes. Rather its branches in many new types of action have gained prominence. Internet or the use of social media is also a medium for criminal activities for juvenile delinquents. The current situation of juvenile delinquency with anti-social work is extremely worrying. But in most cases, teenagers are not to blame for the problem. Due to the changing social, political, economic and cultural context juvenile delinquency is on the rise. Thus, if proper actions have not been taken to deal with juvenile delinquency, it will take horrible forms very soon.

Experts have suggested the following measures in dealing with juvenile delinquency. Those are: the family environment should be made suitable for the development of proper personality of children and adolescents; parents need to pay attention to the basic needs of children and adolescents; strict legislation to control or stop showing pornography through internet or other medium in the country; children need to be provided with pure entertainment; it is important to keep an eye on the children so that they do not become bad; moral and religious education should be provided in the schools; poor teenagers need to be established in the society through vocational training; teachers and parents have to play an ideal role in shaping the character of teenagers; the use and exploitation of child labor must be stopped, and appropriate education must be provided to them; appropriate planning ensuring that the settlement is not exhausted, dirty and overcrowded; proper residential plans must be adopted for slum dwellers; it is necessary to change the existing punitive and corrective measures for the trial of juvenile delinquents; the judiciary needs to be strengthened; local political leaders should avoid to use teenagers in the political activities; modernization of correctional system for juvenile delinquents and the rehabilitation of abandoned, neglected children and adolescents, mass awareness raising program involving community people about the bad impact of juvenile delinquency with collaboration of GO and NGOs; etc.

The writer is Research Consultant, Human Development Research Centre (HDRC), Dhaka.

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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