Trending: Call for Papers Volume 4 | Issue 3: International Journal of Advanced Legal Research [ISSN: 2582-7340]

Juvenile Delinquency

Historical Background Of Juvenile Justice System India

Prior to the Juvenile Justice Act 1986, enacted by the Parliament to provide care, protection, treatment, development and rehabilitation to neglected or delinquent juveniles, the Juvenile Justice Act, 1960 was operative throughout the country. In India and hence, Juvenile Justice Act, 2000 was enacted. Later the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 came into force w.e.f. 30th December 2000 as the primary legal framework for juvenile justice in India.


This act was further amended in 2006 and 2010. In the wake of Delhi gang rape (16th December 2012) this law suffered a nationwide criticism owing to its helplessness against crimes where juveniles get involved in heinous crimes like rape and murder but cannot be tried. The Juvenile Justice Bill, 2014 was then passed by the Parliament in December, 2015 and it became the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015. It came into force from 15th January 2016. Under the Act of 1986, Section 2(a) defined the term juvenile as a “boy who has not attained the age of 16 years and girl who has not attained the age of 18 years”. Meanwhile, India signed and ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), 1989, which treated a person as a juvenile who is below 18 years of age.


The term ‘juvenile’ has been defined under Juvenile Justice Act, 1986 in clause (h) of Section 2 whereas the term ‘delinquency’ has been defined in clause (e) of section 2.
Juvenile delinquency, also known as “juvenile offending”, is the act of participating in unlawful behavior as a minor or individual younger than the statutory age of majority. In general, Juvenile delinquency refers to the antisocial or criminal activity of the child (below 16 years of age for boys and 18 years for girls) which violates the law. In true context, that same activity would have been a crime if it was committed by the adult. When an individual deviates from the course of normal social life, his behaviour is called ‘delinquency’. It is an unwelcome action, omission or moral behaviour of a juvenile which is socially not permitted in any society.

Generally, it means that, if the child fails to meet certain social obligations anticipated from him by the people, then he is considered as delinquent. According to Sociologists, “Delinquency consisted of socially unaccepted acts.” Whereas A psychiatrist suggests that “delinquent behaviour is activity which deviates from the normal.” And a lawyer would say “juvenile delinquency is what the law says it is.”

What is Juvenile Delinquency ?

Juvenile Delinquency refers to participation of minors in illegal crimes. When a person deviates from the normal course of his social life his behavior is termed as delinquency. In other words when a juvenile’s actions prove to be dangerous towards the society and for him, he may be called a juvenile delinquent. The act of delinquency may include running away from home, use of inappropriate or vulgar languages, committing sexual offences etc.

Who is Juvenile?

According to Section 2(k) of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 defines Juvenile or Child as a person who has not completed the 18th year of age. A juvenile is a young person who has not met a specific age as prescribed by the law of a country and doesn’t abide resemblance as a matured person who can be made legally liable for his criminal activities.


In the words of W.H. Sheldon, it is “behavior disappointing beyond reasonable expectation”.
Cyril Burt says, delinquency occurs in a child ‘when his antisocial tendencies appear so grave that he becomes or ought to become the subject of official action.
According to Robison Holt, “we use the term delinquent as we sometimes use the term ‘love’ as though it were a simple concept whereas it actually embraces complex patterns of behaviour.”
Frederick B. Sussmann presents a summary list of acts or conditions included in delinquency definition or description, viz, violation of any law or ordinance, habitual truancy, association with thieves, vicious or immoral persons, and incorrigible beyond control of parent or guardian and so on.
Friedlander says, “Delinquency is a juvenile misconduct that might be dealt with under the law.”

According to CB Mamoria, “The phrase juvenile delinquency may be loosely used to cover any kind of deviant behaviour of children which violates normative rules, understanding or expectations of social system.”
The UN Congress on the Prevention of Crime and Treatment of Offenders (1960) states that
“By juvenile delinquency should be understood the commission of an act which, if committed by an adult, would be considered a crime.”

Characteristics Of Delinquents

Young people who are at risk of becoming delinquent often live in difficult circumstances. They, for various reasons – including parental alcoholism, poverty, breakdown of the family, overcrowding, abusive conditions in the home, the growing HIV/AIDS scourge, or the death of parents during armed conflicts – are orphans or unaccompanied. In most of the cases, they are without the means of subsistence, housing and other basic necessities. Under the circumstances, they are at greater risk of falling into juvenile delinquency.

A number of characteristics of juvenile delinquents have been observed. A delinquent is a child who seriously or persistently misbehaves in cruel ways. He, very often, indulges in riots in the playground, destroys school materials or properties and even projects temper tantrums in the classroom. They have a feeling that they do not belong to the class or school and often stop going to school.
Delinquency is associated with poor school performance, truancy, and leaving school at a young age. According to Kvaraceus, delinquency prone children show certain characteristics in school. The delinquents resent school routine and restrictions, and are not interested in school programmes. The child fails in a number of subjects and repeats one or more grades. Frequent change of schools has also been observed in the delinquent student. They tend to leave school as soon as possible. With limited academic ability, delinquents have vague academic and vocational plans.
A large number of studies report that delinquents have a lower verbal IQ compared with non-delinquents.
Poor economic background is another important characteristic of juvenile delinquency in India. Almost all studies conducted in our country on juvenile delinquency and its relation to the socio-economic order show that those belonging to the bottom strata have been found to have the highest rates.
The delinquency rates are many times higher for boys than girls, that is, girls commit fewer delinquencies than boys. Available data show that delinquency and crime have strong gender associations. Police records indicate that the crime rates of male juvenile and male young adult offenders are more than double those of young females, abd conviction rates are six or seven times higher.
Though some delinquencies are committed in groups yet the number of juvenile gangs having support of organized adult criminals is not large in our country.
Results from the violence studies indicate that many juveniles involved in violent behaviour begin this behaviour by age 15.
Children with attention and hyperactivity problems, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, show high levels of antisocial and aggressive behaviour.
Although there appears to be a relationship between alcohol and drug use and criminal delinquency, not all delinquents us alcohol or drugs, nor do all alcohol and drug users commit delinquent acts (other than the alcohol or drug use itself). Those who are both serious delinquents and serious drug users may be involved in a great deal of crime, however.
Studies of gang participants suggest that, compared with offenders who are not gang members, gang offenders tend to be younger when they begin their criminal careers, are more likely to be violent in public places, and are more likely to use guns. Several studies have shown that gang membership is associated with high rates of criminal activities.

Causes Of Juvenile Delinquency

Lack of love and carelessness, growing phenomena of individualism at all levels of social life, loose neighbourhood relations, association of bad guys,increasing incidence of intolerance among children, impact of media like cinema, television etc.,and access to arms and ammunition have all in some ways contributed in the incidences of juvenile delinquency.
According to Healy and Bronner, the causes of juvenile delinquency are quite wide ranging, which include bad company, adolescent instability and impulses, early sex experiences, mental conflicts, love of adventure, motion pictures, school dissatisfaction, poor recreation, street life, vocational dissatisfaction, and sudden impulse.
Causes may also include the following :

  • Family Environment
  • Poverty
  • Slum Neighbourhood
  • Lack of Education
  • Deep-seated inner desires
  • Mental deficiencies 
  • Emotional Maladjustments
  • Peer Group
  • Urbanization and Industrialization
  • Use of Drugs etc. 

Measures To Prevent Juvenile Delinquency 

In order to prevent juvenile delinquency, the following measures have been suggested :

  • Creating and inspiring team of private and public agencies devoted to preventive work.
  • Giving proper training to the members and staff of various organisations concerned with delinquency control.
  • Establishing child guidance clinics to give appropriate treatment to the disturbed and mal-adjusted children.
  • Educating families so as to help the parents to realize the importance of giving proper attention to the needs of their young children.
  • Establishing wholesome recreational agencies to prevent young children from becoming the victims of illicit or unwholesome recreation.
  • Giving proper assistance to under-priviledged children to build in them good character and law-abiding attitude.
  • Adopting various means of propaganda such as radio, movies, television, newspapers, magazines etc., to realize the importance of law abidingness and how it is always appreciated and rewarded.
  • Improving the social environment – slum areas, busy market places, gambling centres, etc., to prevent resorting to delinquency.
  • Spotting potential delinquents by predictive tests in schools and giving appropriate treatment to such children. 
  • The problem of beggary and poverty are to be removed or controlled. The economic standards of the people must be improved to prevent children from becoming delinquent due to economic needs. 

Rehabilitation Of Delinquents In India

The Children who become criminals for whatever reason and whatever conditions under which they committed crime need to be rehabilitated. Punishment is no measure and legally too it is not allowed. The main purpose of Rehabilitation is not to punish the delinquent. The intention behind this method is to help the delinquent children and give proper guidance and training so that they become normal children and never repeat delinquent acts.
The primary motto of punishment is to make the convict understand the grievous nature of the crime committed and regret his/her actions. Hence after the completion (full or partial) of the sentence, the convict has to be prepared to get back into society. The ex-convicts are always viewed with a suspicious mind by the general public. Hence the ex-convicts should be prepared mentally and may be taught skill sets to improve their job ability.

Special programs to prevent substance abuse, improve mental health, continuing education were framed for sexual offenders, women parolees and children in conflict with the law. The importance slowly downgraded as the twentieth century progressed towards its end. It regained momentum as human rights concerns are high on the activists’ list.
How Does Rehabilitation For Juveniles Work ?
While the juveniles held accountable for their violation of the law and kept in juvenile homes or other relevant correctional facilities for public safety, the primary aim is to rehabilitate them. The rehabilitative process includes psychological assessment of the crime committed by the juvenile and the environment, causing it to happen, therapeutic guidance, skill development, involving them in yoga and other mind developing activities.
Financial constraints of the government wade rehabilitation away and involvement of social workers and non-profit organisations resulted in cost-effective multi-modal rehab programs for the juveniles.

Juvenile Institutions

Juvenile Institutions exist with different names in different parts of the world. But, the main aim and objectives of the institutions are the same, that is, to correct the delinquent.
In the United States, adjudicated delinquents are sent to the training schools, mental hospitals, group homes, community based day treatment programmes, etc.
In England also, there are different types of institutions dealing with the Juvenile Delinquents. The Juvenile Institutions where the child or young persons are committed include probation home, remand home, approved schools, detention centre, probation hostel, attendance centre etc.

Juvenile Institutions In India

There are a number of Juvenile homes in India. They are overcrowded as the number of juveniles accused and need counselling huge. The crimes committed by juveniles are on an increasing trend as reported by the National crime record bureau. The main aim of these institutions are to provide educational, vocational, moral and spiritual training with a view to socialize and to develop a skill in the juveniles. In other words, these institutions train and shape the juveniles for becoming good citizens of the country.

Open Shelter

The State Government may establish and maintain by itself or through voluntary or non-governmental organizations, as many open shelters as may be required. The open shelters function as a community based facility for children in need of residential support, on a short term basis. This is done with the objective of protecting them from violence and keeping them away from life on the streets. The open shelters have to send every month, information regarding children availing the services of the shelter, to the District Child Protection Unit and the Committee.

Foster Care

The Children in need of care and protection may be placed in foster care in a family which does not include the child’s biological or adoptive parents or in an unrelated family recognised as suitable, that is, Children from children’s homes may be placed or given the responsibility of care and protection to other families for a short or temporary period.
The selection of the foster family is based on the family’s ability, intent, capacity and prior experience of taking care of children. The foster parents must be emotionally stable, financially sound, medically fit and must be able to take care of the child. There shall be no discrimination of caste, religion, ethnic status etc but decision will be taken in the best interest of the child. All efforts are made to keep siblings together in foster families, unless it is in their best interest not to be kept together.
The State Government, after taking into account the number of children, has to provide monthly funding for such foster care to ensure well being of the children.
In cases, where the children have been placed in foster care for the reason that their parents have been found to be unfit or incapacitated by the Committee, the child’s parents may visit the child in the foster family at regular intervals, unless the committee feels that such visits are not in the best interests of the child. The child may return to the parent’s homes, once the parents are determined by the committee to be fit to take care of the child.

Observation Homes

The State Government has to maintain observation homes for temporary reception, care and rehabilitation of any child alleged to be in conflict with law, during the pendency of any inquiry under this act.
The State Government may make rules for the management and monitoring of observation homes, including the standards and various types of services to be provided by them for rehabilitation and social integration of a child.
Every child alleged to be in conflict with law who is not placed under the charge of parent or guardian and is sent to an observation home shall be segregated according to the child’s age and gender. This segregation is to be after giving due consideration and mental status of the child and degree of the offence committed.
Every juvenile has been provided accommodation including clothing and bedding. Medical treatment is also given to the juveniles under observation. Each juvenile has to be examined by a certified medical officer within 48hours after admission to the home. An inmate who has been found or suspected to be suffering from infectious disease is to be isolated from other inmates or to be sent to the Government hospital.
Vocational training has also been imparted to the inmates mainly in the tailoring, knitting, carpentry, cane works etc. Indoor and outdoor games are also provided for them.Thus, Observation Homes not only provides for accommodation, maintenance, and facilities for medical examination and treatment of the juvenile, but also provides him facilities for useful occupation such as tailoring of carpentry.

Special Homes

The State Government may establish and maintain special homes in every district for rehabilitation of those children in conflict with law who are found to have committed an offence and who are placed thereby an order of the Juvenile Justice Board.
The State Government may make rules for the management and monitoring of special homes, including the standards and various types of services to be provided by them which are necessary for social reintegration of a child, and the circumstances under which, and the manner in which, the registration of a special home may be granted or withdrawn.
The rules may also provide for the segregation and separation of children found to be in conflict with law on the basis of age, gender, the nature of offence committed by them and the child’s mental and physical status.

Children’s Home

The State Government may establish and maintain, in every district Children’s Homes for the placement of children in need of care and protection for their care, treatment, education, training, development and rehabilitation.
The State Government shall designate any Children’s Home as a home fit for children with special needs delivering specialized services depending on requirements.
The State Government may, by rules, provide for the monitoring and management of Children’s Homes including the standards and the nature of services to be provided by them, based on the individual care plans for each child.

Juvenile Justice (Care And Protection Of Children) ACT, 2000 (In Brief)

The Act seeks to consolidate and modify the law relating to juveniles in conflict with the law and children in need of care and protection, by providing for proper care, protection and treatment by catering to their development needs, and by adopting a child-friendly approach in the adjudication and disposition of matters in the best interest of children.

Section 3 : If an inquiry has been initiated against a juvenile and if during the course of which he ceases to be a juvenile then the inquiry may be continued as if he had been a juvenile.
Section 4 :- The State Government can constitute one or more juvenile welfare boards for discharging the duties conferred upon them in relation to the neglected juveniles under this Act.
Section 5 : The State Government to constitute one or more Juvenile courts for exercising the power conferred upon such court in relation to delinquent juveniles under this Act.
Section 6 : A person appointed as a member of the Board or as a Magistrate shall possess special knowledge of child psychology and child welfare.
Section 7 : The Board or the Juvenile Court to hold its proceedings in a room which is different from the ordinary setting of a civil or criminal court.
Sections 9 to 12 : It facilitates the Government to establish Juvenile Homes, Special Homes, Observation Homes and After Care Organisations respectively for the Juveniles.
For the betterment of the children the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000 has introduced a Special Trial Process.
Section 29 : This section allows a guardian or parents who have a certain extent of control over the child to be present at the court thus providing the child with the mental support that he needs and destroying the feeling of loneliness that may engulf the child.


Crime by Juveniles is a cruel reality in India. In recent times, Juveniles were found to be involved in most heinous of the crimes such as murder, gang rape etc. Juveniles have got serious forms of delinquent behaviour which may hamper the stability and social command of our society. The deviant behaviour of the juveniles has created social disorder and destruction of moral values.

These Children are the supreme asset of any nation; they are the greatest gift to Humanity. They are the potential and useful human resources for the progress of the country. Children are innocent, vulnerable and dependent. The Constitution of India also articulates the concern for the children as per the Articles 15, 24, 39(e), 39(f) 47, and 51A with special reference to Article 39 (e) which indicates The State is the guardian of the Health and Strength of these children. Therefore, they are to be provided with all necessary facilities and atmosphere to grow into responsible and useful citizens of the country. For full and harmonious development the child should grow up in a family environment, in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding. Apart from globalization, liberalization, modernization and privatization there should be another important element – Humanization, so that the Human Rights violations including the violations of the Rights of the Children. Children being the supreme asses of the country, they are to be looked after and groomed well.

Thus, In recent years, children and their problems have been receiving attention from both the government and society. But it has been seen that the problems are enormous and never ending, thus resulting in lack of everything that has been done till today. If these problems are not curbed soon then the growth of the children will be hampered giving a dark future to our country. The amendments that have been raised should be implemented in such a manner that the fruitful result is achieved. The social, economic and other factors which have been the root causes of Juvenile Delinquency needs to be dealt with at the very initial stage. Every society must, therefore, devote full attention to ensure that children are properly cared for and brought up in a proper atmosphere, where they could receive adequate training, education and guidance in order that they may be able to have their rightful place in the society when they grow up.

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Author Sapna Jain

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