Since a nation’s future depends upon young generation, the children deserve compassion and bestowal of the best care to protect this burgeoning human resource. A child is born innocent and if nourished with tender care and attention, he or she will blossom with faculties physical, mental, moral and spiritual, into a person of stature and excellence.
On the other hand, noxious surroundings, neglect of basic needs, bad company and other abuses and temptations would spoil the child and likely to turn him a delinquent. Therefore, expressing his concern for child-care, the noted Nobel Laureate Gabrial Mistral long ago observed:
“We are guilty of many errors and many faults, but our worst crime is abandoning the children, neglecting the foundation of life. Many of the things we need can wait, the child cannot, right now is the time his bones are being formed, his blood is being made and his senses are being developed. To him, we cannot answer ‘tomorrow’. His name is ‘Today’.”
Our children being an important asset, every effort should be made to provide them equal opportunities for development so that they become robust citizens physically fit, mentally alert and morally healthy endowed with the skills and motivations needed by society.
Radzinowicz observed that neglected children and juveniles fall an easy prey to criminality. He asserted that the adolescents claim the highest share in violence due to their dashing nature, lack of foresight, uncritical enthuasiasm, physical strength, endurance and desire for adventure.
It must be conceded that the over-flowing criminality of youth cannot be attributed to biophysical factors alone. There are other influences such as population explosion, social, economic and political changes, pattern of education, etc., which account for the growing incidence of juvenile delinquency, particularly, in developing and third-world countries. The problem has assumed alarming dimensions in recent years.
The early penology did not recognise any discrimination between adult and juvenile offenders so far punishment was concerned. The problem of juvenile delinquency is therefore, essentially of a recent origin. The youngsters between a certain age-group are easily attracted to the temptations of life and lend into criminality. As is often said, the child of today is the citizen of tomorrow, the criminal tendency in youngsters must therefore, be timely curbed so that they do not turn into habitual criminals in their future life.
It is with this end in view that most countries are presently tackling the problem of juvenile delinquency on priority basis. Many of them have established separate juvenile courts to deal with young offenders and the procedure adopted in these courts radically differs from that of a regular trial courts.
In India, special provisions providing for the care, protection, treatment, development and rehabilitation of neglected or delinquent juveniles and their trial and disposition are enacted under the Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection of Children) Act, 2005 which are uniformly applicable throughout the country excepting the State of Jammu & Kashmir.