The Interfering Aspects of Mental Health in Juvenile Offenders
- The author is Yazhini, a BBA.LLB student at School of Law, Sastra University.
Mental health is an illness that the whole world for a very long period failed to acknowledge or, more precisely, people refused to accept as such. The health of a human mind was never considered to be a serious problem until for a few years. Society, community, and even the family members never wanted to agree to take the psychological subject a communal problem. The compensation made for the ignorance in mental health was the happiness and gratified state of living of several people for several years. In recent times thankfully, this unawareness has stopped, and people started to accept the problem, and treatments are being taken. Still, the responsiveness is not significant from some parts and conservative families, especially when it involves their children. India is one of the countries with a large number of young people and young minds. Children are the assets and future of every country, but even they suffer mental trauma due to various reasons which go unnoticed by parents and the teachers. This problem sometimes takes a turn to the dark path of juvenile delinquency, which has a consistent rise in India.
Juvenile justice system in India:
In India, juvenile justice has been in the record since the 1960s, but the cases and delinquents were not massive, but the recent records have been shooting high. The intensity of the offense may vary, but an offense is always off beam. Only when the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000 was enacted, the importance of the problem and the increasing emergency of losing children to crimes has hit the minds.
The Juvenile Justice (care and protection of children) Act, 2000, was enacted on the 30th December in the year 2000. According to section 2(k) of the Juvenile Justice Act, a juvenile offender is a person under 18 years who has their resemblance to a mature person and can be made liable to a criminal offense. The Act had various provisions for the safety and protection of juvenile delinquents. This Act was amended in the years 2006 and 2010 after the Delhi gang-rape incident. Later, the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015, was enacted on 15th January 2016 with revised provisions and protection requirements. In the revised Act, it is stated that juveniles of 16 – 18 years will be considered adults when they are involved in heinous crimes like murder or rape.
Mental health and Juvenile delinquents:
Coming back to the subject of mental health, juvenile offenders and psychological aspects are deeply connected. Every child is born innocent. The environment and the experiences they face change the whole façade of their future. The mental health of the juvenile delinquents was never taken as an actual question until recent times. Various researches were conducted on the said matter, and the result was as expected. The maximum of the children involved in the offenses was affected psychologically in one way or another. The doctors and researchers confined various mental health disturbances a child can cross throughout its whole childhood which are as follows:
- Affective disorders – Major depression, Persistent depression, Manic episodes.
- Psychotic disorders – Panic attacks, Separation anxiety, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
- Substance – Drugs.
These are some of the disorders that the maximum juveniles go through. Almost 90% of these disturbances occur due to the poor family connection, lack of education, depraved societal conditions.
Reasons for the disorders:
The juvenile justice system is a rehabilitative and preventive approach. But in India, punishments and prison are the treatment they provide to bring back the child to the truthful track. However, the need of an hour is to provide help beyond these measures. Treatments and psychological therapies have to be provided by the government.
Children from abusive families and relatives, those who cannot delay gratification, who have undergone sexual problems, suppress a lot of pain and ache into themselves, which sooner or later on takes the form of aggression at oneself. They become an offender when the sheet of aggressive behavior is torn.
Teenagers are also given to abusing drugs, leading to another significant abuse known as drug abuse or substance abuse. These problematic situations change a child in a certain way, which further leads them directly or indirectly into committing offenses. According to researches, mental health plays an essential role in children committing crimes than adults. Most of the girl children involved in crimes are diagnosed with either anxiety disorder or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Sometimes the delinquents are diagnosed with more than one disorder. The term Co-occurrence is where the offenders are affected by both mental health problems and substance abuse. Rehabilitation for drug abusers has to be made stronger.
Psychological sessions have to be given to all juvenile offenders at a higher level. Various treatment options at all possible channels have to be implemented. Children with small symptoms of psychological disorders can be provided with emergency treatments, but the chronicle mental problem has to be taken onto the clinical level along with the adults. Psychopharmacology, clinical therapy, change of society, good education, counselling to the family can be provided. These measures will change the children’s behavior and will be a great help for their future. But it is observable that the juvenile justice system is not being taken seriously considering the increased juvenile offenders. There is a lack of funding. The change in the children is not only helping themselves but also their families and the future of the whole country.
Aftermath care of Juvenile Offenders:
The most crucial step that has to be taken besides the treatment given in the aftermath of care. After the offenders’ release, they should be followed up by both the government and the family members by continuing the family-based therapy, youth mentoring, community-based changes, and mental health improvement rehabilitation.
In the subject of juvenile justice, India has taken a few steps forward. But furthermore, exposure in the mental health subject would help the children to transform their future, and the disorders can be nipped in the bud.
Disclaimer – The views expressed and information given in this article are solely of the author and do not represent in any way the views of or impose any liability on The Philomath, its employees or any other person or entity. We endeavor to maintain a quality check of the published articles but are in no way guaranteeing the accuracy of any information. Any legal opinion shared herein should not be used as an alternative to professional legal advice.