Paying the price for life in fast lane
Psychologists blame changing culture, consumerism, rising expectations for rise in teenage crimes.
In his 2002 documentary Bowling for Columbine, Michael Moore explored the reasons for school-based crimes in the United States. The situation is no different on the other side of the globe. In India’s urban spaces such as Delhi, teenagers are increasingly turning to crime.
Psychologists blame changing culture and rising expectations for this. Individualism is creeping into society, leading to a disconnect between adolescents and their environment, resulting in aggression.
“In a fast-changing world and a Westernised liberal economy, individualism is increasing. While competition and plethora of opportunities are good for one’s growth, it also increases disappointment in case of failure,” said Dr Nimesh G Desai, director of Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences.
He said urban India is facing what Western nations faced decades ago.
“If you recall, 20-30 years ago the United States was going through the same turmoil. It had a lot of school-based crime. It is a cycle and Indian spaces will have to go through this,” he said.
He said all adolescents do not turn into criminals, but those who are psychologically and emotionally more vulnerable commit crime.
A sociologist in Delhi University said rise in unemployment creates frustration among young adults at a time when consumerism is being promoted in a big way.
“Consumerism culture is popularised through television serials and films, creating a demand for branded items and high-salaried jobs. But not just that the well-paid jobs are a rarity, general unemployment is also on the rise. So teenagers feel insecure about their future, they are very anxious and thus, end up committing crime,” she said.
Dr Desai said, “At the micro level, the reasons are psychological in nature. But at the macro level, we need to look at reasons arising out of a changing social make-up.”
He said the justice system in India is hardly effective. On lack of research in the area, he said, “The branches of criminology and psychology have to come together to research into adolescent crime. There is absolutely no work on this.”
He said data on rising crime did not merely reflect a real rise in cases. “Cases regarding teenage crime have increased in IBHAS. It is partly due to a real rise, and partly because of rising awareness and a will to treat.”