Juvenile Delinquency


Children are known as future of every country without them no country can have the progress in any sort of development, children’s are special to everyone, as we know tree start growing from seed if that seed is not getting proper care in starting that tree in future will likely to fall, in same way children’s are to treated as a seed and if they won’t get proper care they will likely fall down and it will also affect them and country too. Harold S Hulbert, the famous child psychiatrist stated that

“Children need love, especially when they don’t deserve it.” [1]

A healthy environment should be provided to all children as they are the assets and wealth of any nation, such environment will help them to become civilized citizens who are physically fit, socially active and mentally conscious, equipped with all skills and active participation required by the society.

Even every nation strives to give every child equal opportunity by removing the bars of inequality and ensuring social justice, which consecutively work in an effective measure to prevent children from becoming a wrong person in society. Children are the rock of every nation on which its future is built, they become the leaders of the country of the land to which they are rooted. Every child has an ability to plan and goal setting, even they can make self-comparison with others. However, these are the things which people face normally with growing age, but the problem arises when these juveniles develop delinquent tendencies and get into law and order problems. Even Mahatma Gandhi once stated that

“If every saint has a past then every criminal has a future”

In case of child offender a special care should be given to his future because it is still in a budding state and not beyond repair.[2]

There can be a number of factors which are making involvement of minors in these types of crimes, such participation by the minor child, usually between the ages of 10 and 17, in illegal behavior is known as Juvenile Delinquency. This problem is a big issue in many countries like India due to which most of the youth ruin their lives, they not only affect themselves but also affect the society. In many studies it has been stated that most of the juvenile crimes are done due to socio- economic problems. Juvenile Delinquency has become an important aspect of criminology today. These juveniles have a delinquent behaviour which may likely to affect and harm the stability and social command of our society. This behaviour of juveniles has created social disorder and destruction of moral values which is creating an alarming position in countries like India today.[3]

Juvenile has originated from Latin word in early 17th century ‘juvenis’ which means young person, juvenile has been considered as a child who has not completed a specific age as mentioned in the law of any country. Juvenile is a child who has committed some act which is declared as a crime, in simple terms juvenile is a term which is used in reference made to the young criminal offender and minor relates to legal capacity or majority.[4]

The word “delinquency” has originated from the Latin word that is ‘delinquere’ which means to leave, this word has primarily applied to those parents who have abandoned and neglected their children, but now it is applied to children who are involved in illegal and harmful activities. It is a type of action which society refuses to welcome the omission or moral behaviour of a juvenile which is socially not accepted in any society. In simple words it may be defined as if a child fails to meet certain social obligations anticipated from them by people, then he is considered to be delinquent. Delinquency acts may include:

  1. Violation of any law of state
  2. Engaged in any unlawful business
  3. Immoral or offensive conduct
  4. Committing sexual crime etc.

In our country India, before the passing of the Children Act, 1960 there was no age limit of juvenile delinquent. Bombay Children Act 1948 defined “Child” as a means of boy who has not completed the age of 16 years or girl who has not completed the age of 16 years or girls who has not completed the age of 18 years”[5]. As per the A.P. Children Act 1920” Child” means “a person under 14 years and used to refer to sent to certified school applies to that child during the period of detention notwithstanding that the child attains the age of 14 years before expiration of that period”. [6]

Juvenile Justice Act, 1986 defines “a juvenile or child, who in case of a boy has not completed age of 16 years and in case of a girl 18 years of age[7]”. The Government of India while discharging its international obligations revoked the Juvenile Justice Act, 1998 by 2000 Act and there was distinction between age and other things were made in it. According to amended Juvenile Justice Act 2000 “a juvenile who is alleged to have committed an offence but has not completed 18 years of age on the date of commission of said offence”. Under Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act 2015 juvenile defined under Section 2 (35), “juvenile means a child below the age of eighteen years”.[8]

The juvenile delinquent is a behavioral problem faced by the child which is generally defined as “a child trying or pretending to act like a grown up or adult”. These are antisocial or criminal activities of the child which violates the law. Juvenile delinquency is also called a gateway to adult crime.

Origin and Evolution of Juvenile Delinquency

India is facing problems relating to juveniles, even the laws are also insufficient for giving punishment to the juvenile, as per the crime committed by them and juveniles are participating actively in many crimes which lead legislators to think for amending the laws regarding the Juvenile Justice Act.

Juvenile Delinquency is a participation of children in illegal activity, it is not only a legal violation but also a moral violation. Prior to the enactment of the Juvenile Justice Act 2000, Juvenile Justice Act, 1986 was the governing law on the subject before this act was passed. Even before passing of this act, the Children Act, 1960 was operative throughout the country. The central government however authorizes the state government to enact their own laws for the care and protection of children, so many of the states formed their own children acts and the age for juveniles were different in all the acts.

The Juvenile legislation was first originated in British Raj which was The Apprentices Act, 1850 which used to deal with the children in distress who are trained for industrial work, but this cat was not dealing with any juvenile delinquency at that time. After that this act was being transplanted by the reformatory cell, and later on The Juvenile Justice Act 1986 was passed and the reason for the formation of this act was the shift of attention of the United Nations. In 1958 the concern for protection of children was proposed by them in Beijing, many countries took part in that conference and as India was the signatory member there, so the rights which were proposed there on the basis of those Juvenile Justice Act 1986 was proposed.

Before the formation of Juvenile Justice Act 1960 The Code of Criminal Procedure of 1898 provided specialized treatment for Juvenile offenders. The Code conjointly envisaged the commitment of Juvenile offence by a person upto the age of fifteen years to Reformatory Schools and provided probation for good conduct to offender’s up-to the age of twenty-one.[9]

The act was in force in most of the states, especially in those where Children Act 1960 were in operation. This Children Act 1960 aimed to attain the attention which was required to children who were found in situations of social maladjustment, delinquency etc. When it was deemed necessary to make a uniform act which would be applicable in the whole country the Juvenile Justice Act was introduced which would take in to account all the social, cultural and economic aspects into account.

The main objective of this act is:

  1. To ensure that every child enjoys equal rights.
  2. To provide protection and care to children without making them face any harassment or abuse.
  3. To ensure swiftly and productively reintegrated into the society in case he was found to be in conflict with law.
  4. To streamline the central adoption agency.

Even, Juvenile Justice Act of 2000 has been again amended and now Juvenile Justice Act 2015 is in command.

Causes of Juvenile Delinquency

As we know the term ‘juvenile’ has been defined under section 2(h) of the Juvenile Justice Act, 1986. The term ‘delinquency’ has been defined in under section 2(e) of the Juvenile Justice Act, 1986[10]. By knowing the causes of juvenile delinquency young persons can be prevented from involvement in inappropriate, harmful and illegal conduct. They adopt the delinquent nature due to many factors, according to Walter B. Miller,

“some youth belonging to lower class turn the mainstream culture up-side down, thus whatever is valued and is regarded as positive generally by the society given up by these youth”[11]

Even Cloward and Ohlin feel that juveniles develop this delinquent behaviour depending upon what opportunities are available in their surroundings, these children become criminals when they have a chance to learn illegal activities. Factors which are affecting juvenile are as follows:

Social Factors

The juveniles develop such delinquent subculture due to society deprivation and frustration which they face. Thus, if certain morals are upheld by the society then these juveniles will improve and try to excel in the areas of toughness, and indulge in things that will provide them a better future, this theory was given by miller only. Several risk factors are identified with a juvenile, a child who has not received a proper education, will likely have lower intelligence and he will be more prone to involve in activities which are delinquent in nature. Social factors such as poverty and low education are also responsible for juvenile delinquency, they make these minors indulge in criminal activities, even due to lack of these opportunities they are not able to excel in the area of organized crime.

Other social activities like habit of abusing also make these minors vulnerable to offending even broken family has also been highlighted in ‘World Youth Report’ which clearly shows that the juvenile who receive less familial supervision, or who live in dysfunctional family settings or in disadvantaged families have more chance of getting involved in delinquent behaviour.

Psychological factors

There are the psychological explanations to delinquency also, which can be well understood through different concepts of id, ego and superego. K.S. Williams stated that “When the super ego becomes weak the ego develops into the anti-social person”. This means that when the self –control of the children becomes weak these children develop their delinquent tendencies, even breakdown of other social institutions has also been connected to delinquency behaviour, there can be a strong link between psychological conditions and this delinquent behaviour.

David Brandt has also extensively talked about the psychological factors responsible for juvenile delinquency in India. As neighborhood is also a part of the society, when the neighborhood ties are weak and the social organization factors are not effective, the social control over the members of the society becomes weak which leads to delinquent tendencies. Weak neighborhood is likely to affect, if such neighborhoods are likely to have gamblers, drunkards around him, then it will likely to affect the psychological behaviour of minors and will lead them to indulge in criminal activity.

Biological Factors

These factors explain that individuals are influenced by their biological and genetic things. The hormonal change in the body of the juveniles are responsible for their delinquent behaviour, even the economic parameters also play an important role in the lives of the juveniles. But usually it’s the combination of these factors that together creates a situation of juvenile delinquency. Biological insults suffered during the prenatal period may have a very devastating effect on these children, even behaviour of guardians towards the child plays an important role in it. In many studies it has been clearly stated that children that display a weakest attachment to their parents and families are precisely the same children indulged in such delinquent behaviour. Even the mental health condition that tends to end up to display as delinquent behaviour.[12]

So, these are the factors which are responsible for Juvenile Delinquency.

Current Trends and legality of Juvenile Delinquency

As per recent definition, the term Juvenile Delinquents refers to any children below the age of 18 years who has come in contact with the juvenile justice system because of committing crime or being suspected of committing a crime. It has been that a number of cases which have been recorded for juvenile delinquency till 2000 were collected as per the definition of Juvenile Justice Act, 1986. As per Juvenile Justice System in India, a minor or a child cannot be tried in the same manner as an adult. Keeping this thing in mind children are dealt as per the criminal justice system, they cannot be treated as per the adult criminal justice system, they cannot be punished with imprisonment or death penalty.

For this purpose Juvenile Justice Act, 1986 was the first central legislation on Juvenile Justice, before passing of it every state was having its own acts dealing with it, even the states were empowered to make their own enactments regarding it, even as per Article 40(3) of Convention on the Rights of the Child clearly states that It is the duty of state parties to promote establishment of minimum age below which child is presumed not to have capacity to deviate the penal law.[13]

After Independence, many of the Constitutional provisions have inspired the developments in the field of juvenile justice. Part III and Part IV of our constitution which state the Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of state Policy respectively contain some special provisions with respect to children. The Constitution of India empowers them under article 15(3) also DPSP also empowers the state to make such enactment for children under Article 39 clause (e) and (f) also Article 47 and 45.[14]

Age of child was a big issue in our country because there are many enactments which state that the age of Age of criminal responsibility is held to be 7 years as per Indian Penal Code, 1860, even  there are many of the enactments in our country which state different age regarding who is minor or not, but after passing of Juvenile Justice Act 2000 it has clearly stated that the person will be called minor if he is below 18  years and where the Juvenile Justice Act is applicable other acts which are involved in it will be overshadowed. But after the Nirbhaya case the situation has been changed, it was followed that the degree of crime and situation will be seen in order to judge whether such a person is minor or not, although age will be considered in it.

However, Juvenile Delinquency has been increasing in India at an alarming rate. The involvement of the juveniles in serious offences like murder, rape and other heinous crimes has raised concerns in the nation. After the Nirbhaya case many debates and discussion were pointed to the softer approach of Juvenile Justice System to serious offences and 27 amendments were introduced in the Juvenile Justice act and Juvenile Justice Act 2015 was passed. The National Crime Records Bureau has also stated that there has been an increase in crimes committed by juveniles, especially by those in the 16-18 years age group.

For the Raise of Juvenile Delinquency many reasons can be citied, but as per the psychiatrist and women rights activists, the reason sated by them was that easy access to pornography is the reason which is attributed as a cause of change in behavior of juveniles. It has been pointed out in the same discussion that the youngsters are not able to control their hormonal changes, due to this biological impulses and changes due to which this juvenile delinquency occurs. [15]

Justice Verma Committee also took stand in these age situation of juvenile and in their report they stated that” Any attempt of reducing the age of juvenility, or excluding certain children from the purview of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000 on the basis of nature of the offence and age, will violate guarantees made under the Constitution and international instruments, the United Nation Convention of Rights of the Child (UNCRC)”[16]

But the Supreme Court stated the suggestions and warnings of the Committee. The court stated that “the age of 18 years was fixed because of the expert notion of psychologists that children/ juvenile up to this age are malleable and can be reformed through redeeming and restoring techniques”.[17]

It was then argued that putting these juveniles with adult criminals would likely change them into the criminal. So, the Supreme Court stated that “The Indian courts keep this fact in mind when dealing with offenders who are not habitual criminals”.



Exploitation of children has been long standing practice, these delinquent goes through lot of abuse which vary in nature as physical, sexual or as a combination for these things The Juvenile Justice Act 2000 has been seen as a very progress although it has been again amended on 2015, government is actively keeping pace with the trends in juvenile crimes. Such types of abuse and factors which we have discussed above are still in society and don’t why they were present for such a long time in our country, it has affected the children’s and youth in a negative way also they lead to such Delinquent Behaviour.

Although looking into the problem of Juvenile Delinquency the bold step was taken by the government by making a Juvenile Justice Act which deals in treating juvenile offenders who found guilty in any heinous crime, even committing such heinous crime by a juvenile offender he will be treated as an adult. However, it has also been seen that the existing laws prior to the amendment of 2015 were not deterrent. The social, philological and biological factors which are the root causes of Juvenile Delinquency needs to be controlled with at the very initial stage. It must be the duty of society, to devote full attention to children and also to ensure that they are properly cared. Even many reformative places have been made to improve these juveniles.

A proper atmosphere of Guidance and love is to be provided by parents and society to the children and this will result in uprooting the problems of Juvenile Delinquencies from our nation.


  1. What is the main cause of Juvenile Delinquency society or parents?
  2. Does our nation amend the enactments as per the latest trends and crimes which are followed by these juveniles?
  3. On what basis the person is decided as a minor?
  4. What Supreme Court stated in the report of Justice Verma?
  5. Is our country able to stand against this problem of Juvenile delinquency?


  1. Shodhganga
  2. Legal services India article
  3. https://jurisedge.com/histroy-juvenile-justice-system-india/
  4. https://legaldictionary.net/juvenile-delinquency/
  5. Family Law LexisNexis
  6. Juvenile Delinquency by K. Padmaja
  7. Manish Dwaivedi (2011). Juvenile Justice System in India, Adhyayan Publisher
  8. Indian kanoon

[1] Harold S Hulber child psychiatrist standards and Goals.1976, Standard 9.

[2] Mahatma Gandhi quotes

[3] Talf and England, Criminology P. 524

[4] See the Black Dictionary of Law

[5] Bombay Children Act 1948

[6] A.P. Children Act 1920

[7] Juvenile Justice Act, 1986

[8] Juvenile Justice Act 2000

[9] Code of The Code of Criminal Procedure of 1898

[10] Juvenile Justice Act 2000

[11] B.Miller, Juvenile Delinquency

[12] Prakash Haveripet, Causes and consequences of juvenile delinquency in India.

[13] Convention on the Rights of the Child

[14] The Constitution Of India

[15] Priyanka Yadav, Juvenile Delinquency as a Behavioral Problem

[16] Justice Verma Report on Juvenile Justice

[17] Justice Verma Report on Juvenile Justice

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