Every child needs nurturing, education and exercise. These needs don’t end when children come in contact with the law. For the vast majority of children and young people, however, their well being and even their lives are jeopardized if they are so much as suspected of a crime. No delinquent has a gene or a set of genes, which produce in him/her a tendency to indulge in anti-social behaviour.
When children come into conflict with the law, it’s most often for minor, non-violent offences — usually theft. In some cases their only “crime” is that they are poor, homeless or disadvantaged. Children forced to live on the streets are particularly vulnerable to arbitrary arrest and ill-treatment. Many survive on begging, petty crime or other illegal activities, which bring them regularly to the attention of the police. Some are detained and ill-treated simply because they are easy prey. Others are arrested under laws, which make homelessness and begging criminal offences.
Studies had shown that, change in lifestyle, incompetent parenting and the sense of insecurity arising out of living in slum-like situations could lead children to offences. It has been noted that instances of juveniles being involved in crime is on the rise in the State of Kerala. Juvenile crime has specific causes and so Juvenile delinquency is to be handled very delicately.
Over the years, for the proper care, protection and treatment of children below 18 years and to protect the full range of rights such as the right to education, highest standard of health and well-being, protection from abuse and exploitation, among others a series of correctional settings had been set up by Government in Kerala. Juvenile Homes, Observation Home, Balasadanam, Special Homes, etc were few among them which accommodate more than 600 children. Apart from this, Child Welfare Committee and Juvenile Justice Board had been constituted in each district for rendering justice and welfare to children who are in conflict with the law.
A significant development in dealing with juvenile delinquency in the State is that a better social awareness has come into place, thereby improving the chance of reformation for those who have slipped to criminal activities by ignorance.
Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act
The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act is designed for the care, protection, development and rehabilitation of juvenile in conflict with law and child in need of care and protection, as well as the adjudication and disposition of certain matters related to them. This Act provides a uniform legal framework of justice across the country, so as to ensure that no child under any circumstances is lodged in jail or police lock-up.
The Act covers children up to 18 years. The Act spells out the machinery and infrastructure required for the care, protection, development and rehabilitation of children. Such machinery includes Juvenile Justice Boards for the screening of juvenile in conflict with law and Child Welfare Committees for the care and protection and treatment of child in need of care and protection. Mention is also made of the need for development of appropriate linkages between the formal system and voluntary agencies to assist in implementing a diverse approach towards the recover, re-education and rehabilitation of juveniles. The Act enables the competent authority a wide range of disposition alternatives with preference to family/community based placements.
Juvenile Justice Board: As per section 4 of Juvenile Justice (Care and protection of Children) Act, 2000. Juvenile Justice Boards are constituted in all districts and it is headed by the Principal Magistrate (Chief Judicial Magistrate) and two social workers as members.
Child Welfare Committee: Constituted under section 29 of Juvenile Justice (Care and protection of Children) Act for exercising the powers and discharging the duties conferred in relation to child in need of care and protection under the said Act. Committee is headed by a Chairman and four members, who are social workers are appointed by the Government for a period of 3 years.
Selection Committee: Headed by a Judge (retd) High Court of Kerala for exercising the powers and discharging the duties conferred on such committee under the Juvenile Justice (Care and protection of Children) Act, 2000 (Central Act 56 of 2000) and the Juvenile Justice (Care and protection of Children) Rules, 2007. The Committee selects the Social Worker member of the Juvenile Justice Board and Child Welfare Committee.
Juvenile Police Unit
District Level Juvenile Police Units have been formed under the Crime Detachment D.Y.S.P
Juvenile Probation Service
In order to settle the Juvenile cases Special Probation Officers are appointed in Trivandrum, Ernakulam and Thrissur districts. In other districts juvenile cases are handled by Probation Officers who are appointed in accordance with the Probation of Offenders Act. In Kerala there are 38 District Probation Officers Gr.I and 21 District Probation Officers Gr.II.
Programme Development and Monitoring Cell
The PDM Cell was established in 1998 with functions like implementation and monitoring JJ Act, developing UNICEF assisted programme, their implementation and monitoring, organization of seminars/workshops/orientation training, policy development and programme formulation for all categories of children developing integrated programme for rehabilitation of women in distress, providing help line, monitoring and implementation of child right conventions and extending child line services to major cities.
Conducting programme for street children.
Setting up of regional level training centre
Computer installation in JJ institutions
Setting up of child line in 9 districts
Major functions of the Cell are as follows:
Implementation and monitoring of J.J.Act.
National and state level programmes implementation and monitoring.
Developing UNICEF assistance programmes, implementation and monitoring.
Policy development and programme formulation for all categories of children, especially children in difficult circumstances – children without family support.
Programme development and support to state government for formulation and effective implementation of programmes and services for children.
Creation of awareness progrmmes on J.J.Act & CRC.
Organization of consultations/seminars/workshop/training.
Conducting reviews on implementation of pogrammes by Central and State Government and NGOs.
Training of the functionaries such as judiciary, police, chairman and members of JJ Board, Child Welfare Committee, Staff of JJ Institution Probation Officers, Social Workers and NGO’s.
Implementation of Street Children Programme.
Protection of children affected by violence and children affected by cyber crimes.
Care and protection of children affected by HIV and children of HIV patients.
Prevention of Child Begging.
Implementation of child line programmes.
Rehabilitation of Child Laborers.