In the face of various efforts being made by the government and social organisations to provide proper care and guidance to children in Nepal, many juveniles are still susceptible to different crimes. As per the country's Juvenile Act, 2018, those below 18 years are considered children. It is worrisome that a lot of children are at higher risk of falling prey to offenses like sexual and drug abuses owing to the existing inequalities and COVID-19. They are also likely to be involved in other crimes such as murder, rape and robbery. As the varied COVID containment measures, including lockdowns, have paralysed the national economy, hundreds of thousands of people have lost their jobs and livelihood sources in the past two years. They hardly have incomes to meet their basic needs and spend on food and healthcare of their children. With the closure of educational institutions frequently, even children have been forced to stay idle. As the proverb goes: 'an idle mind is the devil's workshop,' such children are easily prone to fall into bad company and evil ideas. This naturally leads them to the wrong track.
The country has recorded an increased number of children involved in different criminal acts over the years. According to a news report carried by this daily on Monday, the number of juveniles falling prey to different crimes has also surged considerably. The data provided by Nepal Police shows that more than 1,500 children have become the victims of various offenses as of January 12 of the current fiscal year. The number of children who got victimised in 2020/21 and 2019/20 stood at 3,164 and 2,668, respectively. They are mostly found to be the victims of sexual abuse. What is noteworthy here is that their relatives are found to have been the key perpetrators.
Similarly, more children have been seen committing various crimes. In 2020/21, around 1,250 cases of crimes were committed by children across the country. Of the total cases, juveniles were indulged with 351 rape incidents, 46 attempted rape cases, 34 child marriages,190 thefts, 136 drug-related cases, 34 murders and 44 attempted murders. It may defy one’s belief but the police data showed that 30 juveniles were found to have been involved in polygamy offence! In 2020/21, the number of cases stood much higher as compared to the previous years. The nation reported altogether 637 and 987 cases of crimes involving children in 2019/20 and 2018/19, respectively. Police officials involved in crime investigations say that an easy access to the internet without proper watch and guidance from seniors leads more children to commit the crimes knowingly or unknowingly.
Since children want to do what they have learnt, parents, school and society have an important role to play in shaping children's minds for a successful future. When juveniles get appropriate parenting, there are less chances of being misled. So, the parents need to maintain good relations with their children and teach them good behaviours. Psychologists advise parents to take proper care of their kids in order to lead them to the right track. They need to be allowed to enjoy their rights without any hitch but they need to be made aware of right and wrong. It is the morally unhealthy environment that may make a child go off the track. As children are the future of the nation, they should be nurtured carefully and lovingly.