Revisiting Juvenile Justice with Victim Lens

AuthorNeha Mishra
Published date01 October 2019
Date01 October 2019
Subject MatterArticles
Revisiting Juvenile
Justice with Victim Lens
Neha Mishra1
We are guilty of many errors and many faults, but our worst crime is abandoning the
children, neglecting the foundation of life. Many of things we need can wait, the child
cannot, right now is the time his bones are being formed, his blood is being made and his
senses are being developed. To him, we cannot answer ‘tomorrow’. His name is ‘today’.2
—Gabriel Mistral, Su Nombre es Hoy3
Juvenile offenders also remain victims of multifaceted and complex social needs,
and hence termed as children in conflict with law in India. Statistically, juvenile
offending as well as juvenile victimization continues to be a persistent problem
too. Children being in their vulnerable age in both scenarios of offending or
being victims can have long-lasting impact; consequently, emphasis on devel-
opmental victimology becomes essential and unavoidable in a structured and
safe setting.
The dynamics that may place a child to come in conflict with law can also
place a child at risk of being a victim. Juvenile crime victimization, therefore,
needs a relook towards their intertwined relationship without excluding the
other. Around various jurisdictions, victimology has been given a vital role
within the juvenile justice (JJ) system, namely circle sentencing, victim–offender
mediation and reconciliation programmes, wherein all stakeholders including the
victim move towards a collective satisfaction. Through the present study, the
effort would be placed on answering the viability of victim-based approach in
JJ: Whether in the absence of a safe structured setting such reconciliation and
mediation programmes can prove effective towards restoration? How victim-
based justice can be included in cases of violent or serious and heinous offences?
1 PhD Research Scholar, National Law School of India University, Bangalore, Karnataka, India.
2 Referred from J. Graham & B. BowlinG, YounG PeoPle and Crime (Home Office Research, Study
No. 145, 1995).
3 GaBriela mistral, su nomBre es hoY [His Name is Today’] (7 Apr 1889–10 Jan 1957).
Journal of Victimology
and Victim Justice
2(2) 164–183, 2019
2019 National Law
University Delhi
Reprints and permissions:
DOI: 10.1177/2516606919885498
Corresponding author:
Neha Mishra, National Law School of India University, P.O. Bag 7201, Nagarbhavi, Bangalore, Karnataka
560072, India.
Mishra 165
Juvenile Justice, Victimology, Developmental Victimology, child-victim, mediation
Children are one of the most vulnerable class and can easily become prey to crimi-
nal acts. Protecting children from crime and giving them a safe environment is a
prime objective of any nation. In a stark contrast to this objective, in the year
2016, a total of 106,958 crimes were committed against children in India.4 Many
studies have established that even children in conflict with law (hereinafter CCL)
are victims of their circumstances more than being criminals. Hence, they must be
accorded the same protection and reformation by the State to save their future.
Once again, as a dark reality, crimes committed by juveniles in the year 2016 was
at a total of 35,849 in India. It must be noted that many a time, these CCL are also
the ones against whom sexual or other violent crimes are committed, which they
refrain from reporting as they are themselves seen with suspicion and are the target
of our alternate criminal justice system. Since the juvenile justice (JJ) system
seems ignorant towards the vicious cycle of children victims being the most vul-
nerable, an appropriate structured methodology seems to be lacking in taking into
consideration the needs on behalf of such victims. Children in need of care and
protection (hereinafter CNCP) also fall in the vulnerable category, as their needs
are not taken care of properly. They may become a CCL at a later stage, and hence
run a possibility of being more vulnerable towards being a victim of crime. Many
a time, CCL, because of their criminal peers and surroundings, are situated at a
more vulnerable position where acts of crime can be committed against them.
Hence, it can be stated that all these various classes within one classification of
children are vulnerable of getting victimized, and hence need an elaborate inclusion
in the justice system.
Neither our criminal justice system nor the alternate JJ system caters towards
what should be done for the victims in such circumstances to improve their condi-
tion. While juveniles who come in conflict with law are seen as victims and hence
the law provides for their rehabilitation and social reintegration, the children
against whom crime is committed do not invoke any such proactive rehabilitative
action on behalf of State as parens patriae.
The children are resource assets of a nation state, which has been acknowl-
edged even by the international agencies such as United Nations (UN),
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and Universal
Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), and they have equal rights as any other
citizen of a nation. As parens patriae, a State needs to protect their interest too.
Each and every child has a right to be taken care of and stay protected, and they
should be given all the rights and opportunities towards their development so that
4 national Crime reCord Bureau, ministrY of home affairs, Crime in india 2016: statistiCs, 187

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