In order to prevent juvenile delinquency from taking place the following measures may be suggested:
1. Creating and inspiring a team of work of private and public agencies devoted to preventive work.
2. Giving proper training to the members and staff of all organisations concerned with delinquency control.
3. Establishing child guidance clinics to give appropriate treatment to the disturbed and maladjusted children.
4. Educating of the family so as to help the parents to realise the importance of giving proper attention to the needs of their young children.
5. Establishing wholesome recreational agencies to prevent young children from becoming the victims of illicit or unwholesome recreation.
6. Giving proper assistance to under-privileged children to build in them good character and law-abiding attitude.
7. Adopting various means of propaganda such as radio, movies, television, newspapers, magazines etc., to realise the importance of law-abidingness and how it is always appreciated and rewarded.
8. Improving the social environment— slum areas, busy market places, gambling centres etc., to prevent children to get polluted.
9. Spotting potential delinquents by predictive tests in schools and giving appropriated treatment to such children.
10. The problems of beggary and poverty are to be removed or controlled and the general economic standards of the people must be increased to prevent children from becoming delinquents due to economic exigencies.
B. Method of Rehabilitation:
The main purpose of the method of rehabilitation is not to punish nor to take revenge upon the delinquent. The intention behind this method is to help the delinquent children to get proper guidance and training so that they become normal children and never repeat delinquent acts. The measures taken for the prevention and treatment of juvenile delinquency in India after 1850 may be briefly examined here:
1. Legislative Measures:
Various legislations have been made in India from time to time to deal with juvenile delinquency. Some of them may be briefed here.
(a) Apprentices Act of 1850:
This Act has been the earliest step taken in the direction of preventing delinquency. The Act provides for the binding of children, both boys and girls, between the ages of 10 to 18 as apprentices. Orphans and poor children could take the benefit of this Act. Employers could take such children as apprentices with the intention of training them in some trade, craft or employment by which they gain a livelihood later.
The father or guardian may bind a child above 10 and under 18 upto 21 years of age for a period not exceeding 7 years. A female child may be so bound until her marriage. The Act also dealt with children who committed petty offences.
(b) Reformatory Schools Act of 1897:
This Act can be considered a landmark in the history of treatment of delinquency. This Act is in force in almost all the states of India. Under this Act courts were empowered to send for detention youthful male offenders to Reformatory School for a period of not more than three years. It could be extended to seven also. No person may be detained in it after he attains the 18th years.
In conformity with this Act the State Governments may establish and maintain Reformatory Schools to help the delinquents to get speedy recovery. Every school must provide sanitary arrangements, water supply, food, clothing, bedding, industrial training and medical aid to the inmates. These Reformatory Schools are reported to have done useful work.
(c) Provision in the Criminal Procedure Code:
Under Section 399 of the Indian Criminal Procedure Code (ICPC) convicted young offenders below the age of 15 could be sent to Reformatory Schools established by the State Government. Section 562 of the C.P.C. also permitted discharge of certain convicted offenders on probation. It also permitted their release with advice. Under Section 82 of the Indian Penal Code children under seven cannot be held responsible for their criminal acts. Section 83 of the same Code relaxes this age upto 12 under some conditions.
(d) Children Acts:
Various provinces of India took interest in making some comprehensive laws in 1920 and afterwards to deal with delinquent children. Of these, Children Acts enacted by Madras in 1920 and followed by other States, are more important. The main provisions of Children
(1) No child under 14 years of age can be imprisoned under any circumstances and no young person between 14-16 years of age can be imprisoned unless he is certified to be an unruly person.
(2) Except in the case of grave offences any person arrested on a charge and is below 16, is required to be released or bailed. In any case such persons could not be kept in Jails.
(3) The child or youthful offender cannot be sentenced to death or imprisonment except under extraordinary conditions. Persons below 12 are to be sent to Junior Certified Schools and 12 to 16 Senior Certified Schools.
(4) The court may discharge the person after due admonition, it may hand him over to his parents or guardians after taking a bond from them that they would be responsible for his good behaviour for 12 months.
(e) Juvenile Smoking Acts:
Some Acts to deal with the specific pattern of antisocial behaviour among children have also been passed. Of these the Juvenile Smoking Acts are in force in most of the states. This Act prohibits the sale of tobacco by children below 16. Children below 16 are not supposed to smoke in public places according to this Act. (But these Acts were never enforced in any of the States).
(f) Suppression of Immoral Traffic Acts:
These Acts are passed in order to protect young girls and to suppress prostitution. The Acts prohibit certain practices connected with prostitution such as soliciting in public places, using residential premises for running brothels, forcibly detaining young women in brothels, etc. Provisions are also made to protect girls from brothels or from moral danger.
(g) Probation of Offenders Act:
Under these Acts Juvenile Courts can place the youthful offenders under the supervision of probation officers.
(h) Borstal Schools Acts for Adolescents:
These acts were passed to give a special treatment for adolescent offenders, that is, offenders between 15 and 21 years of age. A Borstal School is a corrective institution and is one in which the offenders are subject to disciplinary and moral influences. These influences would help their reform.