Lack of parental guidance, fragile family bonds and moral degradation, a false sense of heroism and a culture of impunity, peer pressure, substance abuse and disadvantaged socioeconomic status, all contribute to growing incidents of juvenile delinquency
In recent times, the number of juvenile delinquents in Chittagong city has been rising at such an alarming rate that it is in danger of turning into a situation beyond control very soon. Necessary steps in this regard are paramount to curb these offences.
A number of contributing factors, sometimes very complex -- but often including unpolished, non-refined, ill- political culture and support from the political leaders -- are identified to be the main causes of crimes committed by underage offenders, opine sociologists and psychologists.
Afzal Hossain, associate professor of psychology at Chittagong University, said: “There is no quick fix to juvenile delinquency since the contributing factors that drive a young person to a criminal act can be complex - sometimes a combination of factors that interact and play off each other.”
Most recently, police arrested six teenagers from the city’s Station Road area on Wednesday for their alleged involvement in mugging.
Kotwali police station Officer-in-Charge (OC) Md Mohsin said that the teenagers picked up a hardware shop employee and snatched away cash and mobile phone from him.
“The arrestees belonged to the age bracket of 15-16. It is alarming that teenagers, who are mostly slum-dwellers, are getting into serious crimes at such a young age. Some of them are drug addicts too. Apart from substance abuse, they are working as the peddlers as well,” said the OC.
Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and police recently arrested 45 people for their suspected involvement in criminal activities on flyovers. Most of the arrested are teenagers and they mug people to finance their drug addiction.
Also read - Teen muggers prowl Chittagong flyovers
On July 28, RAB 7 arrested six members of a mugging gang, including two minors, who snatched valuables from flyover commuters.
Akbarshah police station OC Mostafizur Rahman said that some homeless teenagers, after becoming addicted to sniffing glue, have taken to mugging to meet their addiction needs.
Panchlaish police station OC Abul Kashem Bhuiyan said they have arrested 35 people, including 22 teenagers, in recent times engaged in crimes on flyovers.
“Two cases have been lodged in connection to mugging on flyovers. The teen muggers are addicted to sniffing glue,” the OC said.
Sniffing glue is a very common but risky practice among street children in the country.
The glue they sniff is used for repairing or joining items of leather, rubber etc. The glue is pasted inside a plastic bag and then the vapour of the solution is inhaled until it is exhausted.
On August 7, a 15-year old boy, produced before a Chittagong court in connection with the murder of his friend, confessed that he killed his friend and later attended the funeral to avoid suspicion.
The deceased was identified as Md Russell, 13, a fifth-grader of Krishnachura Adarsha Bidyaniketan.
During a press briefing on September 10, Commissioner of Chittagong Metropolitan Commissioner (CMP) Saleh Md Tanvir said that the patrons of the teen gangs would also be brought to book.
Prof Dr Anupam Sen, renowned sociologist and vice-chancellor of Premier University, told the Dhaka Tribune that the influential persons who pull strings behind the scenes should be brought to book to curb juvenile delinquency.
“Usually the culture of impunity emboldens the criminals. So, the law enforcing agencies should nab the ‘Boro Bhais’ (Big Brothers) who are roping in the imprudent teenagers in the criminal acts,” said Dr Sen, adding that we must hold fast to our traditional family values to combat juvenile delinquency.
Afzal Hossain, Associate Professor of Psychology Department at Chittagong University, said: “Sometimes these teenagers use arms for committing crimes. Now the question is how a teenager can manage arms. 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,” said the psychologist.
By definition, juvenile delinquents are minors, usually defined as being between the ages of 10 and 18, who have committed some acts that violate the law. These acts are not called “crimes” as they are used for the adults. Rather, the crimes committed by minors are called “delinquent acts.”
According to the sociologists and the psychologists, lack of parental guidance, fragile family bonds, moral degradation, false sense of heroism, culture of impunity, peer pressure, substance abuse and disadvantaged socioeconomic status all contribute to growing incidents of juvenile delinquency.