A SIGN of worry has raised its head as juvenile delinquency — in which children, people below 18 years of age in the Bangladesh context, come in conflict with the law — has been on the increase. A New Age report published on Wednesday dealt with such incidents taking place in an increased number in Chittagong where minors come to be involved in serious offences. The report listed four incidents, from the middle of January to May 27, where the offenders, suspected or arrested, are minors. On May 27, a 48-year-old banker was found dead with his throat slit and three boys, aged between 16 and 18 years, were arrested in the case. On May 2, a 16-year-old girl student was found dead and the killer is suspected to have been his friend. On March 11, four 18-year-old boys were arrested on charges of holding a minor boy to ransom. On January 16, a Class IX student is reported to have been stabbed to death by some teenagers. But the cases may well have been taking place in other areas of the country. On January 6, 2017, a Class IX student was beaten to death at Uttara in Dhaka by a group which included a few minors.
Sociologists, psychologists and child rights defenders blame such a situation onto factors such as fragile family bonding, lack of parental care, immoral way of life of the elders around, wrong peer group, culture of impunity, social imbalance and a lack of recreational facilities that are now limited only to social networking sites, video games or television. Studies have linked delinquent or criminal behaviour in children with individual risk factors such as impulsive behaviour and inability to gratification; economic and social risk factors such as negative consequence of social and economic development, political instability, the weakening of major institutions which include schools, poor parenting skills, home discord, child maltreatment, anti-social parents and an easy access to drug substances; and natural risk factors such as flood, cyclone, river erosion and the like. As the condition for juvenile delinquency lies at each level of the social structure, the issue needs to be dealt with by policy initiatives such as restorative justice model in juvenile correction, establishment of a child rights commission, and prevention strategy; social initiatives such as educational programmes, cultural movement and awareness campaign; legal initiatives such as necessary amendments to the laws, across the board, in defining children and addressing the issue of the minimum age of penal responsibility; and administrative initiatives such as monitoring and acting on the progress achieved and improving the justice delivery system for children. The government should immediately attend to all such issues in a proper way.
There is a saying in the African culture which says that it takes a village to raise a child. It is time that the government understood that an entire community, of a sound state, is needed in order for the children to experience and grow in a sound environment, which should be the key to stopping children from coming in conflict with the law.
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