Juvenile delinquency is on the rise in Chittagong city, as more and more minors are getting involved in serious offences.
Sociologists and psychologists attribute the rising curve of juvenile crimes to a multitude of factors.
Some of the major reasons include lack of parental guidance, fragile family bonds, moral degradation, false sense of heroism, culture of impunity, peer pressure, substance abuse, and disadvantaged socio-economic status.
By definition, juvenile delinquents are minors, usually between the ages of 10 and 18, who have committed acts that violate the law.
If the perpetrators are minors, illicit acts committed by them are called delinquent acts instead of crimes.
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Speaking to the Dhaka Tribune, noted sociologist and Premier University Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Anupam Sen, said: “The incidence of criminal activities committed by offenders within the age group of 15 to 20 is rising alarmingly in the city. This does not bode well for the port city.”
Meanwhile, a number of sociologists stated: “The influential people who pull strings behind the scenes should be brought to book to curb juvenile delinquency.
“Usually the culture of impunity emboldens the criminals. Therefore, the law enforcing agencies should detain the big brothers [boro bhai], who are roping in the imprudent teenagers in these criminal acts.”
The sociologists urged all to hold fast to strong family values to combat juvenile delinquency.
Teens in the web of criminal acts
On March 11, the police arrested four criminals, all 18 years of age, on charges of kidnapping a seventh grader and demanding Tk10 lakh as ransom from the victim’s family.
On February 16, the police arrested two Secondary School Certificate (SSC) examinees in connection with opening fire on a policeman in front of a check-post in the Sholoshahar area.
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The teenaged miscreants were planning to take revenge on their rival group over a dispute. To avoid getting caught with a loaded pistol, they opened fire on the police at the check post.
On January 16, Adnan Isfar, a ninth grader of Chittagong Collegiate School, was stabbed to death by some teenagers in the city due to previous rivalry.
Associate Professor Afzal Hossain of Psychology Department at Chittagong University told the Dhaka Tribune: “There is no single solution to juvenile delinquency. The contributing factors that drive a young person to commit a criminal act can be complex - sometimes multiple factors interact and play off each other.”
“Sometimes, teenagers use firearms to commit crimes. Now the question is, how does a teenager manage to get his hands on a firearm?”
The professor added: “The young persons are usually unaware of the consequences of a criminal act. The delinquent acts are often committed under the direct and indirect patronization of influential persons.”
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Speaking to the Dhaka Tribune, Paruma Begum, Chittagong district Probation officer of the Social Welfare Directorate, said: “Exposure to aggressive media content and lack of parental supervision are contributing to the rise to the juvenile delinquency in the society.”
The probation officer added: “We are gravely worried due to the sharp rise in criminal behaviour among teenagers and young adults. We take it for granted that minors cannot commit serious offences but the reality is just the opposite.”
Mahbub Ul Alam, Chittagong in-charge of child rights Aparjeyo Bangladesh, stated: “Police do not have any statistics because records are not kept separately about the juvenile offenders.
“There is no in-depth study about juvenile delinquency in Bangladesh. However, it is beyond doubt that teenage crimes are increasing in recent times.”
Mahbub further said: “Sadly, the playgrounds are disappearing fast. So the children are becoming confined to indoors, and spending their time to play video games, surf the internet and have their eyes glued to television screens.
“We must ensure an environment for the healthy mental and physical development of our children.”
The rights activist also pointed out that any case filed on charges of juvenile delinquency should be disposed of without delay, since delays could have a negative impact on a teenage offender.