Dealing with Child Delinquency
Children are the supremely important asset of our country and constitute the most vulnerable section of society. Protection and development programmes for the specially disadvantaged children should ensure that every child has equal opportunities for optimum personal growth. Socio-economic circumstances of a family often result in family stress, disintegration and child destitution. Special programmes have been evolved as a response to the needs of such families “at risk”. These services supplement of substitute parental care and supervision, to promote the overall well-being of vulnerable children; prevent neglect, abuse and exploitation of children and provide care and shelter for disadvantaged children.
The transition period from childhood to pre-adolescence and adolescence is very crucial. It is characterised by changes in physiology, behavioural problems, stress, strain and anxieties. There is drive and propulsive egoistic feeling: urge for importance and recognition that may create tendency for new experimentations. In the formative period of juveniles, it is easier to bring about a radical change by identifying, correcting and modifying the behavioural patterns and attitudinal changes.
Juvenile is a child below the age of 18 years and delinquency means refusing to obey the lawful instructions of the parents, teachers or any other lawful authority. An Egyptian priest, 6000 years ago, wrote on the wall of tomb in Memphis town in Cairo that “there are signs that the world is coming to end because children no longer obey their parents”. Socrates wrote 2400 years ago.
“Children love luxury
They have bad manners
Contempt of authority
They show disrespect for elders
Love chatter in place of exercise
Children no longer rise when elders enter the room
They contradict their parents
Cross their legs and tyrannizes over their teachers”.
Delinquency signifies deviant behaviour. Any unaccepted behaviour of the society by the juvenile is covered under the delinquency. According to Albert Cohen deviant behaviour is the behaviour which violates “Institutional expectations”.
Reasons for Juvenile Delinquency
The practice of child protection has undergone a significant change when seen from a historical perspective. The traditional approach of custodial care in an institution is being replaced because of a strong conviction that the Right to Family is one of the most basic rights of a child. Recognising this right of a child to a family, all interventions must try and ensure that the physical, social, emotional and educational needs of the child are met in a secure, nurturing family environment. The primary focus of social work intervention is the strengthening of the family, prevention of family disintegration and abandonment of children. Traditionally in India, the child without parents was looked after by the joint/ extended family, but these systems slowly disintegrated and the problem of child destitution has been on the increase. While institutional care has been one of the alternatives, even the best of institutions cannot be a substitute for the individualized care that a family can provide.
The traditional approach of long-term institutional care resulted in the child being separated from his family environment. Research studies and experiences have shown that the negative and painful experiences in large, de-personalized institutions could result in an “Institutionalized Child Syndrome” accompanied by serious psychological problems. The predominance of Institutional care may lead to families seeking institutionalization as an option for caring for their children, when faced with a crisis. The cost of institutional care also far outweighs its advantages, and even the best of institutions cannot substitute for the care in a family. Hence it is better to provide support to families in crisis through alternate family based and community oriented non-institutional services, so that the child can be looked after within his/her own family environment.Emphasis should be on ensuring participation of children and simultaneously developing community oriented and family-based alternatives.
CHILD PROTECTION – A RIGHTS BASED APPROACH
The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) represents a turning point in the international movement on behalf of Child Rights. The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) drafted by the UN Commission on Human Rights was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 30th November, 1989 and ratified by India on 12th December 1992. This comprehensive document contains a set of universal legal standards or norms for the protection and well-being of children. The UN convention on the Rights of the Child derives strength for its ratification by the governments, implying thereby that the governments agree to follow the principles and are committed to certain standards in dealing with children. It is guided by the principle, that the essential needs of children should be given the highest priority in the allocation of resources at all times. The CRC gives children their basic human rights-civil, economic, social, cultural and political, which enable children to achieve their full potential.
Every nation that has ratified the Convention has to evolve a mechanism that would be “watchdog” for children’s rights, and monitor the situation of its children. The idea that children have rights, rights of their own, which transcend the family setting, is a concept that needs to be universally accepted. Society has a special responsibility towards children, whose vulnerability and dependence makes it mandatory for parents and society as a whole to make a special response in law and practice. An all round effort needs to be made from the micro and macro levels- in the family, school and community to protect Child Rights. The umbrella principle in the provision of the CRC is “The Best Interest of the Child”, which prescribes the approach to be followed in all actions concerning children. There is no article in the Convention, and no right therein with respect to which this principle is not relevant. The “Right’s Approach” is primarily concerned with issues of social justice, non-discrimination and equity. The challenge facing developing nations is mobilization of human and material resources required for the effective fulfilment of children’s rights. The CRC recognizes that some of the changes needed can be achieved only “progressively”, but the processes needs to be initiated, especially the Right to Protection, Health Care and Education. Our endeavour must be least to fulfil a defined set of minimum core obligations, and ensure the use of limited resources to meet the basic requirements of children.
A ‘Rights’ approach is an acceptance of the legal and moral obligation of the State and its institutions to fulfil its duties and responsibilities towards children. Children, in the past were not regarded as holders of Rights. They were seen as possessions of adults who were the right holders. The family is the core unit in society and the major source of development of children. Family provides nurturance, emotional bonding and socialization to the child. An enriching and nurturing family life is essential in the development of the child’s potential and personality. The family structure, composition, practices, interactions, relationships and environment all contributes to a child’s development. Families need to integrate and promote democratic values, irrespective of age and gender. There is a need for equitable distribution of resources within the family.