The Fomenting Culture of Juvenile Delinquency in Bangladesh: How to Fight Against It -Sakin Tanvir
Juvenile delinquency has not been any ignorable issue as it has created an “Environment of Fear” among the members of our society. Though there are a lot of issues that are happening around us, I believe juvenile delinquency is one of the most vital contemporary issues as the children and adolescents are the future of our nation. Larry J. Siegel, an eminent criminologist, described juvenile delinquency or juvenile offending as engaging in illegal action as a minor or as an individual under the legal age of majority. In our society we are observing a huge number of delinquent acts like theft, robbery, snatching, eve-teasing, rape, assault, drug abuse and even murder. But one of the most heinous crimes occurred on June 26, 2019, when a young man named Rifat Sharif was hacked to death by members of the ‘007’ gang in Barguna in broad daylight. Also, our law enforcement agencies first drew attention to juvenile or youth gangs when Adnan, a ninth-grader, was allegedly a member of a gang called “Nine Star” active in Uttara and was brutally murdered by members of another teen gang called “Disco Boys” based in the same upscale residential-slash-commercial township.Recent sensational juvenile attacks and beatings of teachers have sparked questions about adolescent psychology and criminal elements. Therefore, there is no way to avoid the fact that teenagers demonstrate ‘heroism’ in the Sreepur murder or the horrible mentality of wearing a shoelace to a teacher in Narail; rather, it is time to investigate why these teenagers are so ruthless and prone to committing crimes and how to prevent them.
In his 1973 book “Childhood and Society”, German-American psychologist Erik Homburger Erikson explored the causes of juvenile delinquency and the challenges of adolescence. Explaining the fifth step of his “Psycho-Social Development Theory,” in which he discussed “Ego Identity” and “Part Confusion,” he stated that puberty plays a crucial role in shaping a person’s identity in later life. Because, during adolescence, people discover freedom, which aids in the formation of their individuality.In addition, sociologists and psychologists assert that a lack of parental guidance, fragile family bonds and moral degradation, a false sense of heroism, a culture of impunity, peer pressure, substance abuse, and a disadvantaged socioeconomic status all contribute to the escalation of juvenile violence. KhandakerFarzana Rahman, chairman of the Departmentof Criminology at the University of Dhaka, stated that unlimited use of the internet and smartphones, porn addiction, deterioration of the family and social bonds, disobedience to societal and school norms, lack of physical activities, parents earning black money, deterioration of social values, and (good) traditional rituals were major factors in the development of gang culture.In Bangladesh, 32 laws are related to the issues of children, and eight of those laws are directly related to the issues of children, youth crimes, diversion measures, and the juvenile justice system: 1. The Penal Code of 1860; 2. The Child Marriage Restraint Act of 1929; 3. The Children (Pledging of Labour) Act of 1933; 4. The Suppression of Immoral Traffic Act of 1933; 5. The Vagrancy Act of 1943; 6. The Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh; 7. The Compulsory Primary Education Act, 1990; and 8. The Children Act, 2013. Despite of having a good number of laws and provisions, the offending occurred by the juveniles are not decreasing rather than increasing. Nonetheless, we have separate judiciary system for the youth offenders and three correctional facilities where they are sent after their trails and during the time of trials. But the result is not up to the mark. Then the main question arises, “What can be done to prevent juvenile delinquency and save our children to make a better society?” Let’s discuss about that.
Deterring juvenile criminality requires a dedication to parental discipline, social tolerance, comprehensive education, cultural growth, and limiting the detrimental influence of social media. As the family is the primary educational institution for a child, imitation of parental behavior becomes one of the ways in which youngsters learn. In this situation, therefore, parents must play the leading role. Consideration should also be given to constant monitoring of children, teaching them social and religious values, what they are learning from other family members, inquiring about their friends outside the home, and what forms of media they use for enjoyment. Although it seems impossible to keep track of so many things in this age of timekeeping, we must also bear in mind that childhood and adolescence is the age of values and respect. If it is possible to plant the seeds of good actions and humanity in the mind of a teenager of this age, it will grow into a tree that will endure a lifetime. In addition to the family, our educational institutions have an enormous responsibility. It is essential to set aside the task of assessing pupils’ quality through textbooks and tests and instead concentrate on teaching them morals, justice, and humanity. Inclusion in classes and participation in weekly activities can assist teachers in achieving this objective. In this instance, though, the government and schools must collaborate. As a social being, man derives numerous life lessons from society. Therefore, in order to establish a wonderful society, everyone must collaborate. Expanding social consciousness, increasing and manifesting fraternity and tolerance, and keeping an eye on the path that the society’s children and youth are taking can also be viewed as fundamental responsibilities. As a social organism, humans have certain responsibilities towards society, as well as certain responsibilities and duties towards the society’s children and adolescents. Children and adolescents can achieve a healthy mental development by observing what they are doing on the streets, where they congregate, and whether or not they are engaging in any negative activities. If they are, the necessary steps must be taken immediately, as well as by celebrating any festival together and increasing the harmony and harmony. On the other hand, culture and cultural practices have a significant impact on the way of life of a nation’s citizens. Therefore, it is more necessary to present native and healthy cultures. When introducing children and adolescents to indigenous culture, care must be taken to prevent them from viewing western society as their norm. I have discussed about the basic factors such as the role of the family, educational institutions and society to prevent juvenile delinquency from its core. Now we should look into the reformation of our justice system as well. I believe that the implementation of the Restorative Justice (RJ) system could be the best solution in order to prevent juvenile delinquency and reoccurring of the offenses.
The purpose of restorative justice is to hold juveniles accountable for their illegal activity and teach them on how to safeguard the community, and its basic idea is that crime causes harm to both the victim and the community. Many nations, including the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland, China, South Africa, and our neighbor India, have adopted restorative justice as an alternative justice system and also in preventing juvenile delinquency, as it is becoming a well-known and promising justice implementation strategy in which offenders learn about their victims, their pain, and have the opportunity to reform themselves. RJ is effective at reducing and preventing juvenile delinquency in the majority of countries, demonstrating its effectiveness in reducing and preventing criminal activity among youth. In addition, it is claimed that restorative justice may lessen aggression against children, re-oppress the vulnerable, and risk the child’s safety. In addition, restorative justice may involve a more attentive hearing of the victim’s testimony, so reducing the likelihood that victims will be held accountable. In addition, RJ systems promote conflict resolution, mutual respect, and robust relationships between parties in conflict. Alternatively, there are other restorative models in dispute resolution, with conference, mediation, conciliation, and sentencing being the most common. Applying these effective restorative models at any time, from the moment a kid is detained in a criminal case until sentencing, can eliminate violence between parties. This means that there is always the possibility of alternative conflict resolution. This system of alternative dispute settlement benefits all members of society, and all members reap the benefits.
The international community now holds Bangladesh up as a model for development. However, this progress will be incomplete if children and teenagers in this nation engage in criminal activity. Our juvenile justice system must be modernized, responsive, and cognizant of the laws and regulations of the Children Acts and the alternative justice system. Otherwise, today’s juvenile offenders may become tomorrow’s Osama bin Laden, ErshadShikder, RoshuKha, Nibras, Tamim Chowdhury, Bangla Bhai, or Al Capone.
Sakin Tanvir, B.S.S Honors, Department of Criminology, University of Dhaka, Intern, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Bangladesh, Managing Editor, Dhaka University Law and Politics Review (DULPR).