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Crimes committed by Indian children on the rise

Call for stricter law enforcement after an increase in violent juvenile offenses including murder, rape and robbery

Crimes committed by Indian children on the rise

Activists protest the release of a juvenile who was convicted of joining five others in raping a 23-year-old woman on a moving bus in India in December 2012. The juvenile was released after serving the maximum sentence of three years. (Photo by IANS)

Umar Manzoor Shah, New Delhi
India

February 15, 2018

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Indian businessman Raju Kumar has been inconsolable since the killing of his 14-year-old nephew.

Kumar says that on Feb. 4 his family got a call from the New Delhi school of ninth-grader Tushar Kumar to say he was unwell. 

Family members rushed to the school and then to a hospital where they were told he had died.

The boy was brutally beaten inside a school toilet after he had a fight with one of three boys accused in the case.

"Tushar's death has devastated me and the entire family," Kumar said.

He called for stricter law enforcement and other measures to deter an increase in recent years of violent crimes committed by Indian juveniles, including in schools.

Surveys indicate that a fear of bullying is prevalent among many students.

Deepak Raheja, a respected child psychiatrist, said as the fabric of Indian society changed many children reacted angrily to any rejection of their demands. And resentment could be expressed in the form of violence.

A child alone should not be blamed for crimes as family and social factors were significant, Raheja said.

National crime figures show that in 2016 juveniles murdered 892 people.  

In the same year, 1,903 offenders aged under 18 were charged with rape.

Official statistics record a 6.7 percent increase in juvenile crimes in 2016 on the previous year.

In 2016, India recorded 44,174 chargeable juvenile offenses that included rape, rioting, robbery, murder and assault.

A law introduced in 2015 stipulated that juveniles allegedly involved in heinous offences should be tried as adults if aged between 16 and 18.

In January, an 18-year-old shot dead his school principal in Haryana state after she reprimanded him.

In another recent case, a grade one student was stabbed by a more senior student at a school in Uttar Pradesh state.

Dr. Abid Gulzar, a sociologist working with the Central University of Kashmir, said inadequate parenting leading to juvenile crime could include pampering.

Some parents provided children with everything that money could buy without personally overseeing their development, Gulzar lamented.

Bharti Ali, co-founder of a child rights group, cited self-harm by youngsters, not least suicide and attempted suicide.

This happened amid a general increase in violence within many communities.

Ali believes a higher teacher-to student ratio would help reduce juvenile offences.

"Teachers can then pay individual attention to students in class and see what they are doing and how they could be guided in a proper way," Ali said.

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