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Objectives and approach of Child Care Institutions

This topic provides information about Objectives and approach of Child Care Institutions.

It is the responsibility of every State Government to provide services to children in conflict with law (CCL) as laid down under the JJ Act 2015 and the JJ Model Rules 2016. Though, JJ Act and the Model Rules clearly states the procedure for its implementation, however, there are certain areas which may need special attention of the care givers in a Child Care Institution (CCI) such as what shall be done in-case of an alleged CCL above seven years of age and below twelve years and the recidivism.

"Doli incapax" means "Incapacity of a child". Sections 82 and 83 of IPC 1860 exempt the wrongful act of the child from the criminal liability. As per Section 82 of IPC, nothing is an offence which is done by a child under seven years of age. Further, Nothing is an offence which is done by a child above seven years of age and under twelve, who has not attained sufficient maturity of understanding to judge of the nature and consequences of his conduct on that occasion as provided under Section 83 of IPC, 1860.

The Person in-charge in such situation should bring the matter before the JJB, and the child should be declared as child in need of care and protection by JJB. With growing urbanization and migration to big cities, the criminal gangs operating in these cities use children as objects for committing crimes and sometime the children themselves are involved in the crimes. Therefore, the problem of repeat offenders is increasing in cities which require special attention of the State Governments and the care givers in the CCIs. The objective of dealing with such children under Juvenile Justice System should not be punishment as criminals, but to rehabilitate them by means of education or therapy to live a healthy and decent life.

Definition of Child Care Institution

A child care institution as defined under the JJ Act,2015, means Children Home, Open Shelter, Observation Home, Special Home, Place of Safety, Specialised Adoption Agency and a Fit Facility recognized under the Act for providing care and protection to children, who are in need of such services. Children in conflict with law are provided residential care and protection in Observation Homes, Special Homes and Places of Safety. They are defined as under:

Does not exceed 4 months

As under section 41, JJ Act 2015

Observation Home Special HomePlace of Safety
Purpose

For temporary reception, care & rehabilitation of any child alleged to be in conflict with law, during the pendancy of any enquiry under this Act.

For every child alleged to be in conflict with law who is not placed under the charge of parent or guardian

For rehabilitation of those chldren in conflict with law whoare found to have committed and offenceand who are placed there by an order of the Juvenile Justice Board made under section 18

To place a person above the age of eighteen years or child in conflict with law, who is between the age of sixteen to eighteen years and is accused of or convicted for committing a henious offence

 

Duration of care Does not exceed 4 months

Does not exceed 3 years

During the process of inquiry or person convicted of committing an offence

Establishment The State Government shall establish and maintain in every district or a group of districts, either by itself, or through voluntary or non-governmental Observation Homes The State Government shall establish and maintain in every district or a group of districts, either by itself, or through voluntary or non-governmental, Organisations Special Homes The State Government shall set up at least one place of safety in a State

Observation Homes and Special Homes have a unique objective and purpose for the services provided for children in conflict with law, and hence the approach of each would be different. Place of Safety function as Observation Home or a Special Home for children between the age of 16 - 18 years of age, who are accused or found guilty of having committed heinous offences.

As per JJ Act 2015, the provisions dealing with Observation Home, Special Home and a Place of Safety is reproduced as under:

  • Sec 2(40),Chapter I, JJ Act 2015 - ―observation home‖ means an observation home established and maintained in every district or group of districts by a State Government, either by itself, or through a voluntary or non-governmental organisation, and is registered as such, for the purposes specified in sub-section (1) of section 47;
  • Sec 2(56),Chapter I, JJ Act 2015 ―special home‖ means an institution established by a State Government or by a voluntary or non- governmental organisation, registered under section 48, for housing and providing rehabilitative services to children in conflict with law, who are found, through inquiry, to have committed an offence and are sent to such institution by an order of the Board;
  • Sec 2(46), Chapter I, JJ Act 2015 - "Place of Safety" means any place or institution, not being a police lockup or jail, established separately or attached to an observation home or a special home, as the case may be, the person in - charge of which is willing to receive and take care of the children alleged or found to be in conflict with law, by an order of the Board or the Children‘s Court, both during inquiry and ongoing rehabilitation after having been found guilty for a period and purpose as specified in the order.
  • Sec 47(1), Chapter VII, JJ Act 2015 - The State Government shall establish and maintain in every district or a group of districts, either by itself, or through voluntary or non-governmental organisations, observation homes, which shall be registered under section 41 of this Act, for temporary reception, care and rehabilitation of any child alleged to be in conflict with law, during the pendency of any inquiry under this Act.
  • Sec 47(4), Chapter VII, JJ Act 2015 - Every child alleged to be in conflict with law who is not placed under the charge of parent or guardian and is sent to an observation home shall be segregated according to the child‘s age and gender, after giving due consideration to physical and mental status of the child and degree of the offence committed.
  • Sec 48(1), Chapter VII, JJ Act 2015 - The State Government may establish and maintain either by itself or through voluntary or non-governmental organisations, special homes, which shall be registered as such, in the manner as may be prescribed, in every district or a group of districts, as may be required for rehabilitation of those children in conflict with law who are found to have committed an offence and who are placed there by an order of the Juvenile Justice Board made under section 18.
  • Sec 49, Chapter VII, JJAct2015 -The State Government shall set up at least one place of safety in a State registered under section 41, so as to place a person above the age of eighteen years or child in conflict with law, who is between the age of sixteen to eighteen years and is accused of or convicted for committing a heinous offence.

Care in an Observation Home (OH)

Objective and approach Objective of residential care in an OH:

Objectives of residential care in an OH :

  • To ensure the safety, protection, and care of the alleged CCL during the period of inquiry.
  • To support the child through the period of inquiry by ensuring that legal aid is accessible to the child, ensure attendance on every hearing, and explaining to the child the process and progress on the case.
  • To formulate an Individual Care Plan for each child based on understanding the child‘s background (familial situation, peer and neighborhood influences, positive influences), needs and interests, through the use of appropriate methods including counselling sessions, interaction with the child‘s family, home visits, aptitude testing for education and vocational training, and consultation with physical and mental health professionals.

Approach to provision of services in an OH

Since an OH is a temporary residential care facility for a child who is alleged to be in conflict with law, the approach to provision of services in the institution as a whole, and its duty bearers must be one which ensures that:

  • there is no presumption at any level that the alleged CCL is guilty. Therefore, an OH shall not resemble a prison in terms of its infrastructure, services or in how duty bearers conduct interactions with children.
  • services and care are provided in a manner which facilitate finding out the unique needs of each alleged CCL using appropriate methods and in consultation with professionals.
  • at the end of the period of stay the child is on a path to rehabilitation with a clear monitor able individualized plan for rehabilitation.

Key messages to children in OH care:

Key messages which must come through to children in Observation Home which includes care-through the nature of infrastructure, manner of provision of services, tone of interactions between staff and children are:

  • The OH does not presume child as guilty.
  • The role of the OH and staff is to support the child.
  • The OH will explore as many options as possible to help the child get on a path towards rehabilitation and reintegration in society.

Care in a Special Home

Objectives of care in Special Home:

  • Provide reformative services including education, skill development, counselling, behaviour modification therapy, and psychiatric support during the period of stay in the Special Home.
  • Formulate and/or review and/or implement an Individual Care Plan for each child based on understanding the child‘s background (familial situation, peer and neighborhood influences, positive influences), needs and interests, through the use of appropriate methods including counselling sessions, interaction with the child‘s family, home visits, aptitude testing for education and vocational training, and consultation with physical and mental health professionals.
  • Ensure that children accept responsibility and take accountability for the crime they were found to have committed, and begin a process of healing and transformation.
  • Preparing the child for reintegration into the family and community with skills and a plan to ensure that he/she will not commit crime again.

Approach to provision of services in a Special Home:

Since SH is a reformative care facility which houses children found to have committed offences for a period up to 3 years, and is not a prison, the approach to provision of services the institution as a whole, and its duty bearers must be one which ensures that:

  • Children are not treated as criminals or prisoners and shall be provided with as much liberty as is possible.
  • Upon entering the institution, children must be reassured that the SH and its staff are there to support them throughout the period of stay.
  • Children are counselled through a process of taking accountability and responsibility for their actions.
  • Children must be supported to make a fresh start with their lives, and must be supported to become emotionally and financially self-reliant as they reintegrate back into society.

Key messages to children in SH care:

Key messages which must come through to children in Special Home which includes care-through the nature of infrastructure, manner of provision of services, tone of interactions between staff and children are:

  • Children are not criminals or prisoners. Role of the SH staff is to support children in the process of taking responsibility and accountability for actions and reformation.
  • The SH would make available as many options as possible to enable children to avail facilities to ensure their reformation and rehabilitation.

Taking Accountability for actions, and beginning the process of transformation:

Deprivation of liberty through out the period of stay in a Special Home will not achieve reformation of children effectively, unless it is accompanied by a process where children begin to take accountability for their actions, and find ways in which they can help to repair the harm they have caused. Taking accountability helps offenders to come to terms with what they have done, accept it, find ways to repair the harm they have caused {even if, sometimes their actions have been very grave}, and accept themselves. It helps them find purpose, move forward with their lives and avoid crime in the future. Creating a positive environment and facilitating this process from the time the child enters the Special Home during the reception and orientation stage.

Key messages must include:

  • Telling the child that he/she is now in a safe place where he/she is not going to be judged but accepted and helped.
  • Tell the child that the role of the staff in the home is to help him/her take accountability and bring the change.
  • Encourage the child to make the best of the opportunity before him/her acknowledging that at this stage he/she will be very disappointed/angry/unhappy about the period of stay in the home.
  • Tell him/her it is alright to be angry, disoriented, and frustrated with the system, self, family at this point, and the purpose of being in the home is to help sort through all this together and make a fresh start.
  • Encourage him/her to share feelings and thoughts freely with counsellors, PO and other officers/care- givers in the home in meetings and sessions which are about to follow.
  • Help him/her understand that taking accountability means:
    • Expression of regret or remorse or apology.
    • Expressing how his/her actions affected victims/family/community/self and others.
    • Understanding and accepting that it was a decision/choice which could have been made differently.
    • Understanding that there are ways to repair damage.
    • Understanding that there are ways to pick oneself up and move forward.
Source : Living conditions in institutions for children in conflict with law - A manual by Ministry of Women and Child Development
2.9793814433
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