Just like human rights for human beings, child rights are an essential part of children’s upbringing properly. Today's child, tomorrow's captain. In order to children’s wellbeing, the International Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) has set a certain age for children. All human being under the age of 18 are children. A total of 191 states, including Bangladesh, agreed to the principles set out in the Charter and signed it. For thirty years all the signatories to this Charter have observed to it equally. That means, it has been made public considering the welfare of the child. As we all know and agree, children are comparatively much more at risk. Therefore, the family, the society, the state should all take the extra care of them. According to public health data, we all believe, those nations are more focused on children, they will certainly move forward in its overall development. So each of us can understand why children up to the age of 18, especially age, should be given so much importance. Considering the best interests of the child, non-discrimination, child survival and environment, child participation and accountability, etc. are the principles of the Charter of the Rights of the Child. Since these issues have been given importance for the welfare of the child, then it should be understood that the need for these is immense for the children. In other words, since no human child can fully develop before the age of 18, or live in the colorful world of imagination, there is no alternative way for the full cooperation of adults to nurture them. According to physicians and psychologists, children are much more imitative. They constantly learn from family, society & from the state; Whether it is good or bad. At one stage this learning became his/ her habit!
Recently, on television, in the media, the government and from many scholars we heard to say that the number of juvenile delinquency has increased in the country, so the idea of reducing the age of children under 18 is going on! Almost all conscious society is thinking about the matter. Has juvenile delinquency really increased? or is juvenile delinquency being perpetrated by children? Besides, are children the main cause of child crime or the child's condition or situation? If juvenile delinquency really increases, this is the right time to work about the reasons behind it! Considering the best interests of the child, the Children's Act was enacted in 1974. Apart from this, the Constitution of Bangladesh, the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the Bangladesh Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Code also contain various laws to protect the interests of children. It is to be noted that the Children's Act 1974 has ensured the interests and safety of children on the one hand, as well as the provision of flexible and corrective justice system for juvenile delinquents. Recently, the government has asked the law minister to take initiative to amend the Children's Act. One of the ministers told reporters that the current problems, including the juvenile gang, suggest that the law should be amended in the context of Bangladesh. The question of development workers like us is: will the crime rate decrease overnight if the law is amended? The recent reports of occurred crime by children and adolescents are responsible not only for the children but also for the entire family and total social system. One of the main reasons for not creating a conducive environment for children at an early age! If there is a deficiency in family, environmental or institutional education or unexpected bad education is given, then those children and adolescents are ruined over time!
According to the Bangladesh Demographic and Health Survey 2017-18 (BDHS), about 60 percent of the country's girls are getting married before the age of 18, despite the government setting the age of the child up to 18 years. The same was seen in 2014 (married women between the ages of 20 and 24 have been seen to understand the trend of child marriage). And when the level of age of the child decreases, child marriage will take place in a hurry. Millions of children and teenagers will get pregnant at an early age! Immature children will be born; That means risky race! Do we want to get such a country at all? With the increase in the trend of marriage at a young age, the whole country will be affected in poverty! Old age will become at the young age; As a result, the young society will be intoxicated at the age of full youth!
It is good for us to know that the child is the state's pet and the state is its best guardian. The patriarchal guardianship of the state is called 'Parens Patri'. For good reason, where the state itself is flexible towards children, the moral responsibility of our people is to bring up children in a beautiful environment. If a child who has not been cared for in his family and has not grown up in a principled manner; if that child is involved in unwanted behavior, is that the responsibility only on that child? Isn't the state also responsible for this? In this case, reducing the age can not be the solution! Rather, lowering a child's age means nothing more than acknowledging that he / she is "grown up" at an early age. This will have the potential to increase crime in the future as well.
There should have been a lot more discussion today about the noise that is being made about reducing the age of children - how to reduce the abuse of children? Everyone in this country knows about the dangerous torture of the “children” like- Rajan, Babiul and Felani. But the names that people do not know, the story of those bloodthirstiness is more terrible! Everybody now knows how children are subjected to physical, mental and sexual abuse every day in Bangladesh! There is no accurate data stored anywhere, so guess what! However, it is true that the form of harassment in the country is very horrible. In the modern age, the harassment of children has caused national concern and anxiety in every country. In the technological age, the existence of families with children and adolescents is under serious threat. Due to their dynamic and active lifestyle, both parents are active in the world of work. Therefore, in many cases children are not safe even with close relatives and acquaintances. In this way the child's mental development is being disrupted and the child seems to be growing up as an abnormal person. Criminologists have identified specific causes of juvenile delinquency. Such as: lack of adequate contact between parents, grandparents, lack of love, lack of family norms & values, witnessing illegal activities of parents, pornography in anti-social media, blue films, anti-social associations, etc.
When the country is floating in the tide of development, there can be no right solution without establishing the rights of the child but making the children more vulnerable by lowering the age. In order to continue the trend of development, in this age of globalization, let us all be convinced to build a beautiful home for children. May our dreams be for every child from every position, so that life may be filled to its fullest; S/he is determined to become a worthy human being in the future!
Dear reader, do you think "reducing the age of the child will reduce crime at all? ..?"
Md. Tanjimul Islam