The horrifyingly vertical rise of juvenile crimes in recent years has turned into an issue of serious concern for the parents as well as the society all over the world. But have we ever reflected upon this absolutely negative manifestation that seriously as to why our adolescents have gone so desperate in reacting towards their immediate world? In a word, our innocent young boys and girls have actually become mentally and psychologically restless and impatient as a direct result of an endless uncertainty and insecurity that is engulfing them from all corners. In fact, being caught up in the vortex of extreme materialistic development absolutely devoid of positive values they are crazily groping for identity in the midst of unfathomable darkness. To put it in the clearest terms, the total surroundings they live in can hardly hold out any assurance or hope of a secure and shining tomorrow for them. Instead, the deep-going degeneration, decadence and spiritual bankruptcy of the total social environment they live in are, indeed, persistently shaping the patterns of their attitudinal dynamics.
In the simplest terms, juvenile delinquency refers to offences or crimes committed by the children with age ranging from 12 to18 and in some cases below or above this range. Inadequate or complete absence of parental caring and counselling are primarily considered to be one of the core factors behind the alarmingly upward trend of juvenile delinquency in the society. In the existing urbanised and automated contextual set-up, the greatest institution of family which used to be the safest custody for children over the centuries is now being severely threatened and disintegrated increasingly and the cost of which is being too highly paid by the children round the globe. Though the institution of family does exist in Bangladesh in a relatively solid form compared to western countries and elsewhere of the globe, the chain of command and the bond of affection among the members have virtually loosened disappointingly. Either for economic necessity or for other undesirable urbanisation phenomena, parents are getting frantically busy with themselves allowing scanty or no time for their wards. As a result, an overwhelming majority of children is growing up beyond the custodial coverage of the parents even living in the same family and sharing the same roof.
Other than this urban alienation phenomenon, poverty, family break-ups, evil companies, films and movies, organized and well-orchestrated brainwash, and above all the indiscriminate abuses of online, are obviously some of the most dominant causes among innumerable co-related ones driving our young children to take to the ways of crimes and even homicides. In Bangladesh, the occurrences of juvenile delinquency have increased in the recent years and broken the recorded statistics of the past. It bodes an obvious ominous alarm for the whole society as well as the concerned parties. It is, indeed, a matter of thorough investigation as to why the adolescents of a relatively conservative society of Bangladesh have turned restless so abruptly. Obviously, this recent rising trend of juvenile delinquency indicates an undercurrent of restlessness and intolerance flowing invisibly through the arteries of the society.
Apart from the common juvenile delinquencies of stealing, teasing, group violence, sex offences, the latest addition is the organized attempt to commit deliberate homicide against their own classmates, workmates, game partners, friends and other adolescents of their own ages over trashy and trifling matters. In Dhaka, for example, the neighbourhood-based organised adolescent gangsters are actively in operations though in camouflage. Only recently a number of sensational homicidal cases perpetrated by teen-agers have been recorded in Dhaka and in other parts of the country the unseen history of which speaks of the grounds already discussed above. Though yet to cross the danger zone of red alert, the recent spate of adolescent homicidal occurrences in Dhaka and in some other big cities undeniably rock the fabrics of the entire society and if not addressed properly at this nascent stage, will surely be snowballed into a persistent social phenomenon like many Latin American and Caribbean countries.
We are at least lucky in the sense that we are not in the list of those top ten countries with the highest rates of juvenile delinquency. Still, there is no room for complacency on our part. Since adolescent homicidal propensity goes very well with the adventurous instinct of this age group, there is an every possibility of becoming viral in an unbelievable pace. The possible factors and the variables determining the spread of this threatening phenomenon if not to be controlled right at the beginning, the whole nation has to bear the brunt of its possible spin-off effects.
According to Save the Children Annual Report-2017, Honduras is the most violent country with the highest rates of juvenile homicidal incidence. 30 homicidal incidents per 100,000 inhabitants have been recorded there in the year 2017. The other highest-rated adolescent homicidal countries include Columbia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Brazil, Panama, Belize, Ecuador etc. All these countries happen to be in the Latin America and in the Caribbean. The core reason that has been specified behind this homicidal trend is the long-lasting hostile social environment. Almost all of these countries are in a belligerent state of civil war with several armed guerrilla groups fighting with the respective governments. For example, FARC guerrilla group of Columbia has been fighting with the government since long. FARC fighters who are now 50 had been inducted as child soldiers. I am citing this statistics just to bring one point on the surface and that is the social restlessness or hostility in any form or manifestation deeply cast the mindset of the impressionable adolescents or the juvenile boys and girls.
Though the socio-political situation of Bangladesh is not much in common with that of the Latin America, the growing dissatisfaction, deprivations, disaffection, disillusion, an extremely loveless and mechanical environment in the everyday reality of an overwhelming majority of the adolescents are consistently leaving their negative impacts on the very psyche of the young boys and girls. We can hardly deny the innumerable irregularities and inconsistencies prevailing for quite a long time in the fabrics of the society. We have to address these negative symptoms to ensure the safe and secure future of our future generation.
Adolescent or juvenile boys or girls are our sons and daughters. We have to understand them with love and affection instead of mending wall, listen to their problems, try utmost to fulfil their needs as much as possible. Even if at the cost of our own happiness, we have to allocate time for them and spend time with them like friends. Again, we have to understand that even having with the parents how a growing number of children are becoming orphans day by day. Alongside the parents, all the social institutions including schools, colleges, universities etc. and above all the government will have to come forward and extend all possible help and assistance for our adolescents. How can we escape our liability in failing to ensure safe play- ground for the children? Even now, time is yet to run out to do something for them. It is time we all embarked upon several well-thought-out welfare projects for our juvenile boys and girls. In no way, the sense of alienation can be allowed to creep up in the thought processes of our dear sons and daughters the result of which will be simply explosive for the whole nation.
The writer is an Assistant Professor of English, Bogra Cantonment Public School & College.