My mom is a part of a charity program conducted by her College Alumni Association. They have adopted a few government schools that need support, financial & otherwise, for its’ sustenance. Most of the children in these schools stay in charity homes as their families can’t afford their education & daily expenses. Some children live with their own families, but in very poor conditions.

Besides financial assistance, this program conducts motivational sessions for the children. After one such session, the principal of the school brought to their attention the case of a 14-year old drug addict who studies there. His family was scared to live with him under the same roof as he would become violent at times. The teachers also avoid crossing paths with him because of it. This projects a wrong image to the other children and they look upto him in admiration, hoping to be like him someday. 

Most adults use such children from weak backgrounds to traffic drugs.They are often paid with drugs and money, which lures them into this world. As the addiction grows, so does their loyalty.

Previously, Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 enabled all convicted minors to enjoy its protection as they were only subjected to rehabilitation & counselling. This was the main loophole used by drug traffickers while using minors to traffic drugs. All this changed after the involvement of the minor in the Nirbhaya incident. This propelled the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 to be passed, which established that minors between 16-18 years who committed heinous crimes could be brought under trial the same way as adults. 

Heinous crimes are defined as those, “for which the minimum punishment under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) or any other law for the time being in force is imprisonment of seven years or more.”

This enabled the crimes committed by minors come under the ambit of various acts in force, one among them being the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985. This act was amended thrice, the last being in 2014, to widen its scope. It was highly criticised by a large majority of the population, highlighting the fact that children ought to be counselled and not punished, so as to change their mentality at the growing stage itself. This is why the Juvenile Justice Board is authorised  with the responsibility of judging whether the crime committed by the minor was as ‘a child’ or ‘an adult’.

The children belonging to poor families and broken homes are easily drawn towards quick money. Most of the children are not aware of the consequences of such crimes. These facts should be inculcated into the education system during the early school years itself. They should be well aware of the law in force, punishment & adverse effects of it to health and society. Only this way can they know in advance the gravity of such crimes and the irreparable damage it inflicts on their future while those who use them walk away unharmed. 

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