Deviancy in Children

Deviancy in Children

Expert Profile 

Dr. Shubhra Sanyal is currently working as a Counsellor at OHBII, Sewa Kuthir, New Delhi, and was a former Senior Reader at National Institute of Criminology and Forensic Science, MHA, New Delhi. She has undergone training on Direct Training Skill and Designing of Training by ISMT and Addictive Behaviour among adolescent drug users and Women Empowerment. She started her career as a lecturer in Isabella Thoburn College, Lucknow and she has also worked as a lecturer in psychology in Jail Officers Training School, Lucknow. She was the senior faculty member at the National Institute of Criminology and Forensic Science. She has worked as a Deputy Director at the National Institute of Social Defence and Head of the Drug Bureau and as a Deputy Director for Behavioural Training in the Institute of Secretariat Training and Management. After her retirement, she is actively busy in many research work like National Research on “Rehabilitation of released prisoners in India” for which she’s awarded the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fellowship. She is the author of many books including ‘Save Your Children’ written for NCERT and ‘Communication and Counselling in the Work Place’. She has been part of many National and International seminars and conferences and went abroad to attend various training courses. She’s been honored with many awards like the Sushil Chandra Award by the All India Association of Criminology for her work in training and research.


Children are the most vulnerable human beings. They are the future of our world. Deviant behavior such as violence, substance abuse, and the development of clinical disorders is often associated with peer influence and society. It is agreed that peers and society highly impact the behavior of an individual, especially during adolescence; however, an individual first learns and encounters their first influences through family, particularly parents. Nature and nurture play an important role in the development of a child. Parental style and peer groups affect one’s understanding of emotions and how to handle them. According to research done by Dr. Shubra Sanyal and scholars, There are 3 phases of development.

  • Stage one – (From birth to 8 years) The child’s psychological development is the primary function to understand their surroundings better. The child’s consciousness is at its peak to grasp everything and anything. They follow the norms and abide by the rules set by their parents. Parents need to take care of how and when they say things. Too many don’ts and very little do’s can harm a child’s development psychologically. For example, parents saw the child being awake way past their bedtime and tries to get them back to sleep by shouting at them and scolding them for breaking a house rule but didn’t acknowledge the good behavior of obeying it for days. This action can lead to misinterpretation of their own actions as the child might have a negative effect towards such minimal actions and feel less loved by their parents. Such associations build different personalities and behaviors in later life.

  • Stage two – (8 years to 14 years) In this stage the child starts understanding the complexities of his/her surroundings and themselves. They now understand how to use defense mechanisms in order to maintain the associations and self from the conflicts occurring. At this phase, the parents should amalgamate effective communication with their children. The child needs to be communicated with love and understanding about each aspect or any conflict they arrive at as it creates a set perspective in their life if not addressed properly. Dr. Sanyal suggests that explaining the situations and the consequences and scolding them simultaneously won’t rectify the behavior or improve in any way instead it’ll create a barrier of communication between the parent and the child as the child will now use denial as a defense mechanism to overcome any conflict instead of talking it out or introspecting within themselves. Comparing your child with other peer groups or within the family will create a perception for the child that they’re fit for nothing if not obeying their parents such as getting good grades. Such type of burden deteriorates the mental health of a child. This is where deviancy starts for the child to avoid conflict and register situations as a mode of deflections in their lives. Dr. Sanyal suggests that this is the root cause of delinquencies amongst children.

  • Stage three – (14 years and above) The child starts developing self-concept and understanding relationships with others. The child seeks for self-belongingness. If parents aren’t acknowledging the changes a child goes through early to mid-adolescence then the child seeks the same feelings from peer groups as they resonate the same set of perspectives and accept the child’s opinion in a certain way. Nowadays, scolding and punishment techniques to rectify behavior will cause more conflicts and trouble for the child. We need to change such habits and ways of nurturing the child as the generation we’re living in is way advanced within the boundaries of technologies and the internet. 

What does the future hold?

Crime is not only confined within the physical boundaries or the offline world. It has expanded its ways through cyberspace as well. Cyberbullying and online harassment has raised issues that weren’t there before the emergence of the cyber world. The prevalence of cybercrime and children committing crimes is high. Unsupervised kids at home while their parents are out for work can lead the child into various dangerous situations. The child doesn’t have the mental capacity to understand everything seen or heard in a rational way and so the parent’s nurturing is important but if gone neglected it can lead to cybercrime which as per the child doesn’t know if the act done is a crime or not as it was done in the thought of excitement and fun at times.

What can we do?

Motivation leads to frustration when a person is given the opportunity to reach the end goal but couldn’t fulfill it. Frustration often leads to criminal conduct but if the person is given proper counseling and support to make them understand the aspects they are dealing with, then it may show positive feedback and a good development psychologically. The child at times found themselves in the wrong place or the wrong surroundings because of negligence and our wrong policies and lack of proper intervention to work with them at home and in correctional facilities or government organizations. Dr. Sanyal suggests that parents shouldn’t be authoritative in their parenting style instead they should be moderately democratic with their children as it gives them the space to express themselves and understand situations and themselves better rather than being imposed with rules and regulations by their parents. Such healthy practices can lead to a healthy environment for children which may reduce crime and conflict with law.


Nurture plays an important role in a child’s development and the most sacred bond to initiate associations in life for a child is through their parents. We need to focus on assisting healthy practices and morals in order to bring up a better generation.

Personal Note

It was an eye-opening session and very informative. Such topics discussed in the session are the need of the hour and we should work on it more. i would strongly suggest all my readers visit the Youtube channel Forensic 365 for the detailed vision of this talk by the Expert itself. it would be far more interesting than just reading the article. 

Note: For the more detailed information and session recording kindly visit our YouTube Channel Forensic 365

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