The rate of crime has always been on a rise, sometimes fluctuating. Juvenile crimes are quite a novel concept if we look back in time. “If every saint has a past then every criminal has a future,” said Mahatama Gandhi. In the case of child offenders, special care should be given as it is always within the ambit of being repaired in most cases.

Children committing offenses is not new but the gravity of punishment that they received earlier was not justifiable. Juveniles are immature in nature and often commit crimes due to a lack of proper education and upbringing. So punishing them according to adult laws and keeping them in adult prisons will only increase their knowledge of crimes and will not be efficient for the rehabilitation process.

To combat this issue of juveniles being harassed and educated about more crimes instead of being punished for their actions or being rehabilitated after the completion of their punishment, this concept of juvenile offender or delinquents and Juvenile Crimes came into existence.

Trends and Pattern in Crimes

1. Stealing/Theft

One of the most common juvenile crimes is stealing, they may steal from other people or stores. Shoplifting being the most common offense. They may target items that are easily disposable and typically inexpensive. These crimes may go unsuspected or unreported. The adolescent may increase the value of items that he or she steals if there have not been consequences for the petty theft. Statistics indicate that theft is the most common juvenile offense.

2. Assault

Another common juvenile crime is assault. Teens are more likely to get in fights They could assault victims as part of other crimes, such as stealing or purse snatching. Some juvenile offenders act like bullies at school and may include physical violence along with emotional abuse or taunting. 

3. Illegal Purchases

Juveniles may try to make illegal purchases such as buying cigarettes or alcohol. They may try to convince older people to buy these items for them, or they may try to use fake identification to secure these purchases. In other situations, they may get involved with drugs. They may be arrested for possession. Young people are sometimes targeted by gangs to use as drug distributors who take illegal substances back and forth between various locations. Adolescents may become addicted to drugs.

4. Other Drug and Alcohol Related Crimes

Juveniles may commit other drug and alcohol crimes. These are also sometimes referred to as substance abuse. They may be charged with possession of alcohol or drugs. They may be arrested for drunk and disorderly conduct. Alcohol-related car crashes are common. Teens may be arrested for DUI (Driving under influence). Possessing Small Amounts of Marijuana or Smoking Marijuana in a Public Place is also sometimes seen in metropolitan cities. Buying and consumption of tobacco is also recorded.

5. Violent Crimes

Juveniles may take part in violent crimes and might also be a victim of abuse and may lash out. Violent crimes may include simple hurt to grievous hurt till homicides. They may be addicted to drugs and commit violent crimes like assault or robbery to get money for drugs. They may get into turf battles with other drug dealers. Adolescents may use firearms and assault or kill others with them. Juveniles can commit school shootings, other mass murders or other violent crimes. 

6. Sexual Offenses

Some juveniles may commit sexual offenses. They may have been sexually abused and may act out sexually with others. They may lack judgment and may sext pornographic pictures of themselves or others, which may be prosecuted as possession of child pornography. They may commit rape or sexual assault. Some teens get involved in prostitution and may be brought into sex trafficking.

7. Status Offenses

Some juvenile crimes are based on the teen’s age and laws that relate to them. For instance, they may be charged with truancy if they miss too many days of school. They may be charged with curfew violations if they are out late at night. They may face charges for incorrigibility if they refuse to obey their parents.

8. Vandalism

Teens may commit acts of vandalism by themselves or with others. They may add graffiti to buildings, homes or other property. This might also include Drawing on Public Restroom Walls, Keying a Car and Cutting Auto Tires.

9. Traffic rule violations

Traffic rules violation is also common in teens, often done under the lack of adequate knowledge of rules to sometimes intentionally. This may include not wearing helmets, dodging red lights, speeding up, triple riding, overtaking, not wearing a seat belt, driving without a license, etc.

10. Cyber Crimes

With the rise of the digital era, crimes are also becoming digital in nature. Teens being a part of this criminal world are also seen committing such offenses. Crimes like cyberbullying, cyberstalking, use of dark web, pornography, cyber frauds, hacking, blackmailing, etc. are being commonly recorded in various jurisdictions.

The Way Forward

Juvenile Justice is a legal framework that defines justice for juveniles under the Indian Legal System.  The system is giving special treatment and protection to juvenile delinquency which is a crime committed by youth who is under the age of 18 years.

At present, everyone knows that there is an increasing rate of juvenile crimes and this increasing rate is creating a debatable issue of age determination. Age determination is considered one of the most important factors to determine the maturity level of the accused. The increasing crime rate is raising the question that whether juveniles can be tried as an adult or not?

The act itself answers the question that no juvenile offender who comes under the definition of “child with conflict with law” as defined under subsection 13 of Section 2 of the Act shall not be tried as an adult and shall be sent to Child Care Centre or any Rehabilitation Centre. Adopting of a reformative theory of punishment by law is giving an undue advantage to juveniles to perpetuate their ability to commit a crime without facing any harsh consequences. Reformation is good but not always. 

The present juvenile system in India is created on the belief that juvenile offenders can be reformed and rehabilitated, sending them to bars or prisons will be going to reaffirm their status and identity as “criminals”. Now the question arises is that there is no guarantee that juvenile offenders will get reformed and will not show their anti-social behavior again.

The act totally focuses on the reformation rather than penalization. Penalization will definitely create a deterrent effect on the juvenile and the increasing rate of crime by juveniles will slow down. 

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