Sunday, 4 June, 2023


Juvenile Delinquency Through The Lens Of Bangladesh

In his short story ‘Chuti’, Rabindranath Tagore depicts the psychology of the teenagers in the most believable way and he describes the social attitude towards them as well. In the beginning of the story, readers find that a fourteen-year-old restless boy Fatik leads a group of boys and passes his days doing mischief in his village. He does not have much interest in study. Being disturbed by his attitude his mother sends him to Kolkata responding to his uncle’s proposal. His mother hopes that her unruly boy would become decent when he will stay in the city. Though initially Fatik feels excited to go there, his dream fades away when he finds that his aunt and two cousin brothers are not pleased to see him. He expects love from the people around him but fails to get that. Later he wants to go back to his village but his uncle does not allow him to do that. Finally Fatik dies of fever. This renowned story speaks of the awkward years of adolescence. According to Tagore, teenage is “very much like a stray dog that has lost his master”. He further mentions about this psychology, “In his heart of hearts, a young lad most craves for recognition and love; and he becomes the devoted slave of anyone who shows him consideration.” It is actually the age when adolescents can be convinced and taken to any direction. While good companions can guide them to the apex of righteousness, on the other hand, the opposite can pull them down to the bottom of decadence. Among these two factions, the latter has become more powerful and dominant nowadays. Moreover, owing to their psychological desire to be recognised, some teenagers are becoming interested in joining a group and lead a carefree life. Therefore, the number of teenage gangs and their crimes is increasing gradually in our society.

A teenage mind is always enthusiastic. So, some of the youths think of doing something special through which they can be able to attract others and get love as “none dare openly love him, for that would be regarded as undue indulgence and therefore bad for the boy.” During the initial months of adolescence, teenagers go through a physical change. They suddenly discover that they are growing up but they do not see any change in the attitude of others towards them. That is why the teenagers feel a kind of intense craving to show all that they have really grown up. While doing so many of them get involved in numerous positive works like playing, travelling and hanging out together. But some of the teenagers think in a different way. They join groups and gangs to show their presence and power in front of others. Unfortunately they don’t understand that in our culture people don’t take such activities positively. It is the time when teenagers make experiment responding to their curiosity. When their curiosity drives them to the negative path, they like to walk collectively. They feel that in case of any unexpected situation their gangs can back them.

After making or joining a gang these teenagers want to do whatever they like. They get involved in eve-teasing, hijacking and extortion. They also commit violence in their respective areas. And we often read and watch news regarding such incidents in the national dailies and TV channels. For instance, a group of 25 to 30 teenagers attacked and assaulted another teenager named Sainan Hossain, a student of SFX Greenherald International School, in Dhanmondi-32 on March 1. Sometimes the cruelty of these teenagers reach to such an extent that they don’t hesitate to kill their opponents. The murders of Adnan Kabir, an eighth grader of Uttara’s Trust School and College, on January 6, 2017, Adnan Isfat, a class-IX student of Chattogram’s Collegiate School, on January 16, 2018, and Rifat Sharif, a resident of Barguna Sadar upazila, on June 26, 2019, are mentionable in this regard. Each of this incident occurred as the members of an organised gang targeted the victims and killed them jointly. Law enforcement agency members often express their concern as they have found that a number of such teen gangs exist in different areas of the capital including Uttara, Dakshinkhan, Old Dhaka, Dhanmondi, Hatirjheel and Khilgaon along with other parts of the country. Sometimes law enforcement agencies arrested some of the gang members, but the teenagers again got involved in crimes after their release from the jail in bail (the bail is easier owing to juvenile delinquency). Thus importance of uprooting the core of the problem should be given priority.

Taking advantage of the psychology of the adolescents a group of people, particularly a section of local political activists, use them to seal their benefits. Muscle power is an essential feature of our filthy practice of political conflicts. Political activists aim to create an impression before their leaders by spreading their influence. They control their respective areas by patronising these teenage gangs. Besides backing the teenagers, they start providing different unethical facilities to them. The most common item that the godfathers use to draw attention of the adolescents is drug as the curious teenagers easily get attracted to it. But the real problem starts when they become addicted. Then these teenagers desperately try to collect money to buy drugs. Realising their situation the opportunist groups employ them in criminal activities and use them as drug trafficker.

The godfathers use these youths as they find that they are more suitable options for committing a crime. It is easier for them to convince the youths. On the other hand, they know that there is no provision of penalising the teens. Youths below 18 are sent to juvenile correction centres. In murder cases, the juveniles get maximum 10 years imprisonment. Moreover, if the adolescents are arrested, they easily get bail on the ground of juvenile delinquency. Thus, it becomes the best investment for the godfathers which benefits them in the long run and we have also seen that in some cases a few of these gang members turn out to be the top terrorists in the consecutive years.

In addition, the faulty policy is also responsible for increasing teen gang culture. In our country when a youth is detained, he is most often locked up with adult criminals and receives similar treatment as an adult. In the jail a youth has to face abuse and exploitation which leaves a permanent negative impact on a teenager’s physical, social, emotional, cognitive and spiritual development. After the trial if any teenager is found guilty, he is sent to the juvenile correction centres. But the number of such centres is never enough compared to the increasing number of teenage offenders. We have only three correction centres throughout the country for them. Moreover, there are numerous problems in our juvenile correction centres. The main goal of establishing these centres was to counsel the tender-aged wrongdoers so that they can return to the society following a proper correction method. But there are allegations that instead of taking care of these teenagers, officials of these centres torture the juveniles mentally. They do not keep youths of different ages separately. They do not provide enough foods and other facilities to the juveniles. Thus a piece of news report was published where a group of youths tried to revolt against the irregularities. Again a girl tried to commit suicide for her inability to cope with the growing torture inflicted upon her in the correction centre. These sorts of problems happen due to the poor administrative cooperation, insufficient logistic support, corruption and lack of accountability.

While the affluent families spend less time and do not know about the activities of their child, the poor ones sometimes feel afraid of their wicked child or somehow enjoy the unexpected power and influence of their child. These sorts of attitude actually allow and indirectly encourage the youths to begin and continue unethical practice. But this should be stopped. Elders of a family should develop an intimate relationship with their younger members, teach them morality and keep track of their activities. Besides, policymakers need to identify the root causes that encourage and force the teenagers to form and join gangs and commit serious crimes. They have to bring each and every culprit to book who have been playing with the future of this nation. Otherwise, all the hopes of this country will shatter into pieces.  e