Reformation a big help for children

Reformation a big help for children

Juvenile delinquency or children in conflict with the law has been known since time immemorial, but in the past few decades, a lot is being done to understand the causes and conflicts, which force children to have their first brush with the law at a tender age so as to reform them and help them get back as active members of society.

Speaking with Deccan Herald, Lawrence D’Souza, a retired banker-turned-social worker, who has been working with ECHO-Centre for Juvenile Justice for the past decade, said, “When a child commits a crime knowingly or unknowingly, there are several causes for it such as poverty, alcoholic parents, broken homes, etc. A child does not become a criminal overnight. So, as social workers, as counsellors, our first step is to counsel the parents and speak to the child to understand the underlying reasons and family setup and understand the child’s psychology. Many children in conflict with the law usually commit crimes such as pickpocketing on buses or trains, stealing mobile phones, house burglaries, etc.

“We make efforts to understand the child’s behaviour and engage them in activities such as yoga, vocational courses, so as to discipline them while the case goes on in the Juvenile Justice Board. 

Depending on how well the child adapts to training, their transitional phase is decided. Some children take three to four months to adapt, while others may take longer.

 Interestingly, it has been observed that almost all the children who get reformed never get involved in any crime thereafter. After the children get reformed, we try to rehabilitate them further in association with the traffic police here. Several children are now working as traffic assistants and many of them work in factories and earn a decent living while many others are completing their education at school and college level,” D’Souza said.

For 18-year-old Master Kishan S S, who is by now a fairly known name in the State for his unique feat of making a film at the age of 9, “C/o Footpath,” it was a journey of discovering a whole new world of children his age and younger, but in conflict with the law. It all started three years ago while he was working on his second film, C/o Footpath 2, which is a story of three slum children believed to be criminals. In the process of making the film, Kishan observed several NGO volunteers and even met children in conflict with the law, many of them having been convicted as well.

Speaking with Deccan Herald, Kishan said, “Many children narrated to me their experiences, including what made them commit a particular crime, how their parents reacted, how they were treated badly by the police authorities, etc. I came across many such children as a part of my research for the project, who confessed that when they committed any crime, say, for instance pickpocketing, their parents did not scold them.”

He said that in fact, they can have good food from the money and their families were happy for them for having brought home some money. “So, it’s a lot to say about their bringing-up and parents too cannot be blamed in this situation, as the families live in utter poverty. Another thing which I observed working on the film is that many adults such as the pack leaders in slums are well aware of the loopholes in the law and they are the ones who encourage the younger ones to commit crimes and tell them not to worry, as the maximum sentence for them is three years and that they can walk free after that,” Kishan said.

Many children are also into substance abuse, drugs and buying certain tablets over the counter. They get influenced by others in slums, and then to support their daily needs, they take to crime. “So, a lot needs to be done in this direction, especially by society, lawmakers, the media and the government to ensure no child is known as a child in conflict with the law,” Kishan says.

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