Hyderabad: It was a wayward youngster who had turned into terror suspect in Lucknow. Saifullah’s grieving father was so disturbed with what his son had become, he refused to accept his son’s body after a 12-hour standoff with counter-terror units in the city.
But parents’ neglect towards their children create young criminals in Hyderabad too. Eleven-year old Kumar (name changed) was baffled when he ended up in a correctional home for boys at Saidabad.
He was not aware of the gravity of the crime he had committed. Police had booked a case against him for molestation and attempt to rape. Kumar’s victim was a five-year-old girl.
In the first session with a psychologist, Kumar was scared, confused and totally in denial of his action. But in the days that followed, the counsellor gradually earned his confidence, and he started opening up about what motivated him to commit the crime.
“What pushed him was an obsession with porn. Unattended by his parents, he used to hang out with older boys who took him to Internet cafes, where they watched porn,” the psychologist said.
His parents knew nothing of his habit. “The habit prompted him to experiment and try out what he had seen online. He molested the girl without knowing the consequences,” said the psychologist.
There are several hundred ‘juveniles in conflict with the law’ — the technical term for underage offenders. Many have been neglected by parents and have received no guidance.
Workers at the Juvenile Justice department say over 70 per cent of children at correctional homes in Hyderabad come from broken families or were neglected by their parents.
A large number of teens involved in narcotics cases, thefts, bodily offences, rapes and other criminal offences grew up without proper parental care. A substantial number of runaway children also end up in correctional facilities after being arrested by the police for offences they have committed.
A 17-year-old recently caught in a narcotics case had an alcoholic father who quarelled with his mother frequently. Three teenagers from Chandrayangutta, who were arrested for sodomising a minor boy, spent most of their time on the streets rather than in their homes.
“Neglected by their parents at an age when they need the most care, protection and guidance, the kids tend to seek company in the streets. They drop out from school and end up with older boys who prompt them to commit offences. This is a regular pattern we have observed,” said V. Padmavathi, member of the Child Welfare Committee.
No excuses in right parenting: Experts
Parents have a responsibility towards their children. Neglecting this responsibility because of work or for any other reason puts the child’s future at risk, say experts in juvenile crime.
Children who are neglected are vulnerable; without supervision, they have the freedom to do whatever they want but lack the wisdom to see the consequences of their actions.
“Children left unattended at home spend much time in front of television or Internet and then try to imitate what they see, without their parents’ knowledge. I counselled one teenager who was caught for theft. He told me that he got inspired after watching Crime Patrol and similar shows. Children tend to succumb to peer pressure and commit crimes because the parents do not check up on them,” said N. Mythili, a psychologist who has counselled several children at the Saidabad correctional home.
B. Shailaja, director of the Juvenile Welfare and Correctional Services Department, says that protection and care from parents is a basic right of every child.
“Parents, who do not pay attention to their kids, or treat them harshly, violate their basic rights. Parents abet children to commit crime by neglecting them,” she said.
Senior police officials say that several college students involved in offences such as chain snatching are spoilt brats. Their parents let them loose when they are very young, not inquiring about where they were going or what they were doing. Some get attracted to bad company and habits.
“The prime motive of young chain snatchers is to earn easy money and live a lavish life. They have developed the habit of spending money for parties etc,” said Tafseer Iqubal, DCP of LB Nagar.
SHE teams say many of the boys come from broken homes. “Their parents are either too busy or they are involved in a marital dispute. During counselling, we make them promise to spend enough time with their children in some activities,” said SHE team ACP, M. Snehitha....