Juvenile
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This article has been written by Kushagra Verma.

Statement about the problem

The problem of “Juvenile Delinquency” is a very vague issue that consists of a lot of contingencies and is also open to a number of apprehensions and interpretations as to how, when and what preventive methods should be used to prevent such delinquent behaviour among the youth of our nation, as this is a problem of national importance.

Objective and scope of the study

The objective of this research paper is to analyze the various programs and laws working for the Juveniles of the Nation. This research paper is mainly about the contingencies regarding the constant tussle between the current practices to curb delinquency, law and the social environment as a whole and how measures could be habituated throughout the nation which could strategically help in uprooting the problem of Juvenile Delinquency. 

Research questions

  • What is Juvenile Delinquency and how is it a “Social Problem”?
  •  Structure of the Social Movement.
  • Conclusion

Research Methodology

The researcher has used doctrinal methods i.e. reference from available primary sources like Acts, Rules and Regulations to study the present questions at hand. The researcher has also taken reference from secondary sources like books, articles and newspaper letters to understand the issues regarding Juvenile Delinquency: A Social Problem.

What is juvenile delinquency and how is it a social Problem?

Juvenile delinquency is the involvement in criminal acts by a juvenile between the ages of 10 and 17. An individual’s behaviour is called ‘Delinquent’ when a person deviates from the course of a normal social life. If a juvenile under the age defined under a law displays behaviour that may prove to be dangerous to society and/or to him, he may be considered a juvenile delinquent. Juvenile criminals are any criminals that are under 18 years of age, including boys and girls. 

A juvenile delinquent is an incorrigible or habitually disobedient young person. In recent times, due to several causes and circumstances, these illegal activities are growing rapidly. Young children below the age of 18 years who are at a higher risk of becoming delinquent life in difficult circumstances. They are surrounded by an environment where parental alcoholism, poverty, family breakdown, overcrowding, violent conditions in the household, the rising HIV/AIDS scourge, or the death of parents during armed conflicts are predominant. To elaborate these better following are the factors which trigger this delinquent behaviour among the children.

Individual factors

With juvenile delinquency, multiple risk factors are known. A minor who has a lower degree of intelligence and who is not well trained is more likely to become involved in criminal activity. Impulsive behaviour, uncontrolled hostility and an unwillingness to postpone gratification are some risk factors. Multiple individual risk factors can be described in many instances as a contribution to the participation of youth in dangerous, disruptive and illegal activities. 

Factors for the Family 

The occurrence of delinquent behaviour in young people is correlated with a stable pattern of family risk factors. A lack of adequate parental oversight, ongoing parental conflict, neglect and violence (emotional, psychological or physical) are among these family risk factors. It is probable that parents who show a lack of regard for the law and social standards will have children who think similarly. Finally, those children who exhibit the lowest commitment to their parents and relatives, including delinquent conduct, are exactly the same adolescents who participate in improper behaviours. 

Factors in Mental Wellbeing 

Several factors in mental health are also seen as leading to juvenile delinquency. However, it is important to bear in mind that it is not possible to identify those forms of mental health problems, especially personality disorders, with regard to children. There are, however, precursors of these disorders that can be shown in infancy that appear to end up being revealed by delinquent actions. A common one is the disorder of conduct. A lack of empathy and disdain for social norms is described as a behavioural disorder. & quote; (Mental Disorders Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fourth Edition, American Psychiatric Association, 2004.) 

Factors in drug abuse 

In most cases of juvenile delinquency, drug abuse is detected, and two patterns are established with respect to substance abuse and minors. First, now, juveniles use more potent drugs than was the case 10 years ago. Secondly, the age at which certain juveniles start drug use is younger. Children are discovered to be using strong illicit drugs in elementary schools. Unlawfully, the use of these illicit drugs or the use of legal substances motivates young people to commit crimes in order to acquire drug money. Additionally, when consuming drugs and alcohol, teenagers are much more likely to participate in damaging, dangerous and criminal behaviours.

 It is because of the lacklustre environment, which creates a mental imbalance in an already sensitive age of adolescence. It is estimated that the number of children in extremely challenging circumstances worldwide grew from 80 million to 150 million between 1992 and 2000. In most countries, teenagers are convicted of serious offences, such as theft or murder, which are referred to as criminal courts and charged as adults. 

Often prosecutors make this determination, or often allow transfers, requiring a hearing to consider the child’s age and background, the nature of the offence, and the possibility that the juvenile court will support the youth. As a result of a tough approach towards juvenile crime, several jurisdictions have changed their juvenile codes to make it easier for underage offenders to be referred to adult courts. In order to portray the whole deteriorating condition of rising Juvenile delinquency in India, a state-wise distribution of this crime would be apt. 

The largest number of cases of juvenile delinquency are as follows: 

Tamil Nadu (1,470), which accounted for 34.0 percent of total juvenile crimes under SLL, was registered by the Special and Local Laws for 2009, followed by Madhya Pradesh (987), (22.8 percent) and Gujarat (498), (11.5 percent). 

Taken together, these three states accounted for 68.4 percent of the total cases of juvenile delinquency reported in the country under SLL. Of the 223 cases registered in the country under the ‘Weapons Act’ involving juveniles, Madhya Pradesh registered 25.1 percent of the cases (56). Madhya Pradesh accounted for 51.3% (590 out of 1,149) of the ‘Gambling Act’ cases registered. Of the 398 cases registered under the Prohibition Act, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, and Maharashtra contributed 40.2 percent (238), 38.0 percent (225) and 21.8 percent (129). Tamil Nadu recorded 7 out of 18 cases under the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, while 11 out of 14 cases recorded under the ‘Registration of Foreigners Act’ were reported from West Bengal and 32 out of 44 cases reported from Madhya Pradesh under the ‘Dowry Prohibition Act.’ Six out of 21 cases were registered in Haryana under ‘Scheduled Castes / Scheduled Tribes Prevention of Atrocities) Act’ and the four cases were registered in Himachal Pradesh and Jharkhand under ‘Forest Act’ each. 

The following chart depicts a graphical analysis of “serious crimes” committed by the children between the age group of 16 years to 18 years over a period of 4 years:

For this increase in juvenile delinquency, different explanations can be cited. Simple access to pornography and changing eating preferences can be attributed as a reason for this shift in the conduct of teenagers, who display growing participation in sexual offences, according to psychologists and women right activists. 

It has been pointed out that, due to hormonal changes, young people are unable to regulate their biological impulses. In urban areas, there are more cases of rape than in rural areas, as the social power of the former (cities) has decreased. This can be seen in the table on different forms of juvenile crimes, a whopping 1982 number of cases of rape charges, the highest in all types of juvenile crimes in 2016. 

Although, on the one hand, the widening gap between rich and poor in urban areas and the loss of innocence has driven minors from poor parts of society into the world of crime, children from well-to-do families are also increasingly entering the world of crime. These dangerous trends among young people in India are motivated by peer pressure, extravagant lifestyles, too much independence from parents, and even basic curiosity. Indian law has taken various steps in order to provide justice to these Juvenile Delinquents as well as to provide justice to the people who have suffered through their ill actions. Thus, such provisions laid out by Indian law are as follows:

  • Detailed provisions have been given under Sections 82 and 83 of the Indian Penal Code relating to the extent of criminal liability of children belonging to various age groups. Doli incapex is a child under the age of seven, i.e. ‘unable to commit a crime.’ Likewise, a child between the ages of seven and twelve has only minimal criminal responsibility. The claim is to explain juvenile offenders’ lenient care because, due to lack of adequate maturity and comprehension, they do not grasp the significance and implications of their acts. 
  • Under Section 360 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, where any person under the age of twenty-one or any woman is convicted of an offence not punishable by death or imprisonment for life and no prior conviction has been formed against that person, the court can, taking into account the age, character and history of the defendant and the circumstances under which the offence is committed, have jurisdiction to do so. In the ordinary procedure, such first offenders must not be prosecuted in a criminal court. Instead, by special procedures or treatment under the statute, they must be dealt with and corrected. The primary aim is to distinguish juvenile offenders from hardened criminals in order not to be vulnerable to repeated tendencies. 
  • Section 27 of the 1973 Code of Criminal Procedure further indicates that, under Indian law, lenient care of juveniles has already been given legislative approval. Under this clause, if an offence other than the one punishable by death or life imprisonment is committed by a child under the age of sixteen, he should be given lenient punishment based on his past background, character, and circumstances that led him to commit the crime. During the duration of his imprisonment, his sentence could further be commuted for good conduct. Furthermore, the charges brought against him have not been released in order to prevent the young offender from being stigmatized and humiliated. There is no disclosure of his name, address or identification and the general public is exempt from attending the proceedings. The offender’s parents could, however, be required to attend the trial. The primary purpose of these closed-door trials is to keep the defendant away from the procedural law’s rigors and to make the trial simpler and less formal. The theory underlying these legislative initiatives suggests that young people are innocent by nature and that the attitude of society towards them should also be one of compassion and kindness. Often, at the time of committing crime, the emotional attitude of juvenile delinquents definitely varies from that of a reported adult suspect, so treating the two alike would be extremely unreasonable.

Therefore, due to these underwhelming statistics even after continuous efforts put forth by government authorities with respect to laws and regulations. This problem is a “Social Problem” as it is a problem which perpetuates in the youngsters or the younger generations of the country. They are the future of our country and with the current deteriorating state, the conditions should be mended as soon as possible, otherwise the plausibility of widespread social dilemmas and destruction can be presumed to be rather inevitable. Thus, this is a huge problem for our nation and if necessary steps are not taken at the right time, fatal results could cultivate for the nation.   

Structure of the social movement

Before moving forward with the structure of the social movement for Juvenile Delinquency, it is rather cruel to know the true meaning of Social Movements. Although, almost every person has experienced a social movement, either through mass media platforms such as news channels, newspapers or even social networking platforms or have experienced them personally. Still, the meaning of social movements is crucial to be known for the reader, as most of the people have a very narrow meaning of what a social movement is in their head, like where a bunch of people roam around the roads of the city or do the same while fasting as what is popularly known as peaceful protests. But, there is a wider and greater meaning to the term “Social Movement”. 

A social movement may be characterised by a large number of individuals as a concerted attempt to bring about or hinder social, political, economic, or cultural change. Described in this way, social movements can sound similar to groups with special interests, and certain things are common to them. 

But the essence of their behaviour lies in a significant disparity between social movements and special interest groups. Special-interest groups usually operate through traditional political practices such as lobbying and election campaigning within the system. In comparison, by participating in different kinds of campaigns, including marches, picket lines, sit-ins, and even overt violence, social movements frequently operate outside the system.

Social movements are defined by sociologist Charles Tilly as a series of contentious performances, displays and campaigns in which ordinary individuals make collective claims on others. For Tilly, social movements are a significant tool for the participation of common citizens in public politics. He argues that a social movement has three main elements: 

  1. Campaigns: a sustained, coordinated public effort by the target authorities to make collective claims; 
  2. Repertoire: the use of combinations of the following modes of political action: the formation of alliances and coalitions for particular reasons, public meetings, solemn processions, vigils, marches, protests, petitions, comments to and in the public media and pamphlets; and 
  3. WUNC displays: the concerted public representation of the participants on the part of themselves and/or their constituencies of worth, unity, numbers, and obligations.

Since social movements are for the betterment of society, in the present case scenario that betterment is only possible when juvenile delinquency as a whole is pulled out from the system from its very roots. For such prevention, certain strategies and tactics must be followed in the social movement. 

The early intervention 

We now know that the most cost-effective place to avoid the “cradle to prison pipeline” is as close to the beginning of the pipeline as possible, in light of the growing body of study. Early intervention delays the onset of criminal activity and encourages the growth of the assets and resilience of youth. Although many prior interventions concentrate on remediating apparent and/or long-standing destructive behaviour, research has found that prevention and early intervention are more efficient. Thus, early intervention not only protects young lives from being lost, but it also prevents adult criminal careers from starting and decreases the risk of young people becoming serious and violent criminals. This reduces the burden of crime on society in turn.

Issues connected with family 

A family, especially parents, plays a major role in their child/adolescent’s growth. One of the risk factors may be family-related issues. These problems can be economic, social, and alike. In West Bengal, the number of minors left without a parent is growing with the increasing number of immigrants. It is also difficult for grandparents or other caregivers to pay attention and supervise these kids so that they don’t end up in an unfavourable setting. Improper conditions can drive a child/adolescent to commit a crime. 

Domestic abuse, parental neglect and their poor habits, etc., can be the causes of committing a crime. For a healthier and comfortable family environment, Functional Family Therapy Programs could help in various ways. The Functional Family Counselling programme serves adolescents and their families on probation. A family therapist interacts with the family and helps individual members of the family see how they can motivate progress in their home positively. In three steps, the software works. 

The therapist tries to break down resistance to therapy during the first step and helps the family to feel that it is important to alter negative contact and relationship patterns. In the second step, new ways of handling day-to-day scenarios are introduced to family members; they are shown how to adjust their attitudes and reactions to scenarios. Family members are motivated to transition new communication skills to other social contexts (for example, school or the workplace) during the third process. 

At a low cost, FFT decreases rates of recidivism and juvenile delinquency. For one month, twelve FFT sessions cost around one-sixth of the cost of detaining a youth. Another beneficial impact of the initiative is that young people’s siblings on parole are less likely to commit crimes because of the support they have obtained from their families. This program has shown a lot of success in the USA in the late 90s and early 2000s. Therefore, this program must be implemented, as it is a tried and tested method to curb the growth of Juvenile Delinquency.

Teaching 

By providing knowledge to parents and children, model programmes have supported various families in countries all around the globe and thus is considered to be a tried and tested formula. Some programmes educate parents about how to raise healthy kids; some teach kids about the consequences of drugs, gangs, sex, and weapons; and others seek to demonstrate the inherent importance they and all others have to young people. Many of these interventions provide young people with the understanding that their conduct has consequences. This is especially important in an environment in which pornographic and violent images are barred from young people. The fundamental aim of educational initiatives is to inspire hope and open up opportunities for young people.

Juvenile delinquency prevention

Against such factors as violence, psychological issues, “street life,” etc that push a minor to commit a crime, there needs to be an opportunity for the minor to see the right path. International experience divides the crime prevention level into three levels:

  1. Primary;
  2. Secondary;
  3. Tertiary.

At every level, preventive measures are of particular importance in the fight against crime. LEPL Centre for Crime Prevention was established in 2012 and promotes the prevention of juvenile delinquency, rehabilitation and resocialization of former juvenile prisoners, and institutional development of mediation.

The centre works both on early and general crime prevention, as well as with at-risk groups.

Leadership House Project programs should be implemented in cities all around India and give youth the opportunity to develop physically and mentally by participating in training, seminars, sports and other activities.

Two generations – Which involves schoolchildren in the voluntary activities in elderly nursing homes. The youth will help the elderly which promotes developing a sense of solidarity and responsibility in minors. For secondary prevention, the centre promotes the management and development of the programs/projects for minors at risk-groups. In this regard, in Tbilisi is implemented the program “Youth Club” which target groups are minors who are characterized by difficult, antisocial behaviour. This program helps beneficiaries to use their free time productively. The tertiary prevention programs include programs aiming at preventing children, who have pleaded guilty or are convicted of an offence, from re-offending. These are the diversion and mediation programs applying to individuals under the age of 21.

If there is probable cause that a person under the age of 21 has committed a minor or a serious crime, the prosecutor is authorized not to initiate/stop the criminal prosecution and apply the diversion mechanism. Deviation programs present one chance to the person under the age of 21, in exchange for fulfilling certain conditions, to continue living without a conviction and a sentence, to start a law-abiding life, and to take a step forward to a successful future.

Program for bullying prevention

In elementary and high school environments, a strict Bullying Prevention Program should be set up. To implement this program, teachers and administrators should be loaded with an anonymous student questionnaire as to who is doing the bullying, which children are most often abused, and where campus bullying happens. 

Once teachers and administrators have learned at their school about how and where bullying happens, they could create class rules and initiate conversations with students as well as parents which could help in resolving the issue. Independent therapy should also be offered by individual bullies and victims. 

Also, an anti-bullying squad should be set up in every standard of the school which could make sure that no student is held a victim of a bully. Making an anti-bullying squad from among the students itself would create a sense of responsibility among the students and therefore, they would feel empowered in the right kind of ways. This would also greatly help in curbing the issue of juvenile delinquency. 

Social media

Social Networking platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and alike should have proper age restriction methods so that sensitive content through these platforms is not possible or at least hard to find. Meme pages on these platforms should start putting out posts on how to become better individuals, proper mannerisms, respect for women, and other moral values. As social networking platforms are very popular among young adults between the age group of 14 years to 18 years, these platforms carry a certain weight in the minds of every adolescent individual. 

These platforms have a very crucial effect on children, and since this age is very tender and malleable, good posts on popular pages on Instagram could really help in curbing the situation at hand. A similar, initiative has been taken by the researcher, where the researcher used to regularly post motivational quotes, posts regarding women empowerment, anti-bullying and alike. These posts used to be seen by over 1000 people on Instagram. The response that the researcher got in return was also very overwhelming as the people who saw these posts acknowledged these posts and further reposted them. This created a cycle or even a small movement, where every person was sharing the same posts and stories through their own personal Instagram handles. 

Also, television programs should be advised to strictly provide a disclaimer before scenes that could contain a sort of violence that has the potential to disturb the already tender state of an adolescent mind. Special newspapers and magazines should be made for young adults which contain life skills and how to tackle bad or uncontrollable times in their lives, as it is because of this is what triggers the growth of delinquency among children. 

Articles regarding meditation, exercise, yoga, good reading habits along with some articles on social issues going on in the world should be specifically formulated for this age group. Social media should also exhibit the various consequences of laws against juvenile delinquency which would even further threaten or stop the children from indulging in any sort of malpractices. Advertisements regarding such motions should also be shown on YouTube. Thus, social media plays a huge role in the development of personalities and could immensely help in curing the said issue.

Anti-drug abuse programs

Drug abuse is found to be the most common trait among most of Juvenile delinquents. Even though drug abuse at any stage of life is harmful for mental and physical health, it gets even worse when adolescent children consume them. Consumption of these drugs by children creates a condition in people wherein they are not able to differentiate between what is real and illusion. This confusion further creates other problems like anger issues, mental disorders, depression and alike. These factors help in providing a push to delinquency among children. 

The reason why drug abuse has been so predominant among teens is because of its easy availability and cheap costs. To curb this, the government should make strict laws against the selling these kinds of drugs even for medical purposes. These drugs should be made highly restricted when it comes to the number of units a chemist store can have and also, it should not be available in every store. 

Further, these drugs should not be sold to anyone, rather a proper attested prescription should be made compulsory in order to buy such a drug. These drugs should also be made costlier so that they are not within the limits of children/teens/young adults. Several assessments of Life Skills Instruction, a classroom-based approach to the prevention of drug abuse, have shown it to decrease participants’ consumption of alcohol, cigarettes, and marijuana. By the end of high school, the declines in alcohol and tobacco use were continued. Life Skills Training is identified both by Blueprints and the Surgeon General and by several other lists of proven programmes as a model programme. 

The strategy has been With funding from government entities and private foundations, it has been widely disseminated throughout the United States over the past decade. Therefore, in the opinion of the researcher, similar steps should be taken up by the respective authorities of our country too.

Role of celebrities

In India, Bollywood celebrities and sportspersons play a huge role in every person’s life. Be it from a child of 5 years to any person as old as 90 years, all of them look up to them as their idols. In many regions of the country such celebrities are even worshipped with a place next to gods like Rajnikanth is worshipped like a god in South India, and similar is with the case of the great Sachin Tendulkar. Ordinary people tend to follow their favourite celebs and try to copy them and their lifestyle, thinking that the right way to live a life is like them. Thus, it is not a theory that these celebs control the lives of their fans in ways more than one. For example, fans of Akshay Kumar tend to remain fit and away from any drug abuse and even alcohol. 

This is because Akshay Kumar maintains a very healthy lifestyle and his fans follow him at all costs. In similar fashion, such celebrities and sports persons should actively promote healthy social skills, education, and alike not only through advertisements but also through their respective social media accounts. This will create an impact on the children who follow them and thus these children would try and follow what their idol celebs/sportspersons are trying to convey. Thus, making these children a better person, while directly reducing the chances of them becoming criminals and criminal activities in the country.

Conclusion

The juvenile justice system has historically used fines, therapy and intervention to alter problematic youth activity after it has happened, but it has been found that once they are actively involved in criminal activity, it is more difficult to turn them around. “Prevention is more successful and less expensive than a care after the fact” (1995), according to the National Institute of Justice Journal: Abuse by Young People. 

Therefore, inside schools, more prevention initiatives have been developed to keep children away from narcotics and abuse. This technique has proved to be more effective in keeping teenagers out of trouble than after-the-fact care. Within the criminal justice system, services and therapies that cover such a large population, there is a long path to reform that takes a while to adapt to change. 

With initiatives such as Functional Family Counselling and Instruction based on developing the talents and assets of youth rather than retribution, we can see a better future for India’s youth. If we are interested in a sustainable juvenile justice system, we need to focus on effective youth growth, anti-bullying services, minimising incarceration, evidence-based practices, high-risk youth focus, and strong community partnerships. The position of the communities in this issue is to provide our at-risk youth and offenders with more effective prevention and recovery services, as well as to work with the federal and state governments to establish a better strategy to distribute funds to these services. Social media and celebrities should also carry out promotions, ads and share messages that are helpful to these young adults’ mental well-being. 

The 2016 Juvenile Justice Act can be seen as the Indian government’s very progressive move towards keeping pace with evolving trends in juvenile crime. Subject to the Juvenile Justice Board’s findings, the daring step under the Act on the prosecution of juvenile offenders found guilty of committing heinous offences as adults. In conflict with the statute, the Justice Verma Committee took a stance against reducing the age of juveniles. 

The study noted that Any effort to reduce the age of adolescence or to exempt such children from the jurisdiction of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Security of Children) Act 2000 on the basis of the nature of the crime and age would infringe the assurances made under the Constitution and international instruments of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UN Convention on the Rights of the Child). 

However, when the current trends in juvenile delinquency in India are examined, it appears that we need to study and amend our juvenile justice policies in view of the age pattern and essence of offences committed. In the US and UK, the same kind of patterns emerged with the height of horrific offences committed by teenagers in the 16 to 18-year-old age group. The US has modified its stance on criminal justice, with a move from restorative to retributive approaches. The same also applies to the UK. 

Here, an offender under the age of 18 is usually prosecuted by a juvenile court, although the case can be referred to the Crown Court in cases of serious offences. The self-control and parental control that was historically adequate to deter individuals from committing offences have become weak in the face of the rapid spread of industrialization and globalisation. In Indian culture, the primary socialisation operating through groups such as families, peer groups, traditional neighbourhood relations, near kin circles is increasingly becoming ineffective. 

All this has led to recent advances in juvenile delinquency. The investigator firmly believes that when stopped at its root, juvenile crime can be easily controlled. Offenders generally acquire the propensity to commit crimes while they are young, so it is a very good opportunity to confront their immorality since children are more versatile and can quickly become positive characters. In juvenile crime, psycho-social factors often play a very vital role, as the way people think and live influences the young generation’s overall social decency. Views among various groups of individuals, particularly when they are negative, are detrimental to minorities. 

Societies with more noticeable distinctions, such as races, are likely to experience more juvenile delinquency rates. Participation and sensitization by the Community in matters relating to juvenile delinquency is of great importance. Preventive steps are very important within the Criminal Justice administration. For this reason, if people in society are conscious of the problems of abused children and children living in difficult circumstances, they may play an important role in recovery. 

Any informal bodies in various places, such as registered residential groups, may be interested in reporting issues of adolescents who engage in deviant conduct or whose conduct cannot be effectively monitored by parents. In this article, it was reflected earlier that families are effective social regulation and socialisation agents. Families can thus be more active in taking preventive steps, along with other key classes in society.

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