A recent newspaper article reported that a 14 year-old boy who seriously destroyed his school got the punishment to clean the streets, instead of being sent to prison. Do you think this is right, or do you think that such criminals should be sent to prison?
Juvenile delinquency is a problem with a difference; not only does it need to be handled urgently Juvenile delinquency is a problem with a difference; not only does it need to be handled urgently but also delicately. There are two questions that need to be answered while tackling the problem – should juveniles be treated differently compared to adults and secondly, should the severity of the crime be considered while making this decision. I believe that such criminals should be treated differently, but only if the crime is not heinous in nature.
There are many reasons behind not sending juvenile offenders to prisons like adults. One main reason is that at such young ages, children and teenagers do not know any better. They are not psychologically developed to register the import of their actions. Age, not only brings physical development, but also mental maturity. Therefore, treating them similar to adults would not be fair.
Secondly, juvenile delinquency is a phenomenon of dysfunctional families. Most delinquents have unhappy home lives and feel discontented with their lives’ circumstances. They indulge in delinquency to get their parents attention or attention at school. They need love and affection, and jails and prisons are the last places where they can find the love they need. What is required is treating the causes for such behavior, like talking to family members.
Finally, these ages from 10-18 are the career building ages. Punishing individuals at such ages would make them lose precious years of their life and leave little scope for them to rebuild them. This would destroy their chances at good jobs in the future and also make it impossible for them to become fruitful members of the society. The only future path left open to them would be becoming criminals and carrying on with such activities.
However, if the crime is very severe, age cannot become an excuse to avoid punishment. If we treat crimes like rape, murder lightly just because of young age, we are doing a disservice to the society.
To sum up, youth are the future of a country and adolescence requires enough light to see the steps directly in front. Imprisonment is not the light but a permanent darkness, which destroys all chances of re-entry into society. We have to treat juveniles differently but not for brutal and heinous crimes.