Author: Umadevi Achari
II Year | University of Mumbai Law Academy
Children need to be nurtured and fostered in a congenial atmosphere for their overall development. Special homes under the Juvenile Justice system are run to keep juveniles under one umbrella. They are placed in such homes with the aim of transforming and making them a contributing member of the society. However, juveniles get exposed to a confined outlook and space within such spaces. Therefore, institutionalization limits free-thinking. More often than not, it results in more harm than good.
In this article, the author begins by tracing some of the reasons behind deviant behaviour in children. The author then highlights the different kinds of special homes. Lastly, the author also discusses the problems faced by institutionalised children as well as the methods to combat these problems towards the conclusion.
Social Influences in Children’s Lives:
It’s essential to understand why a juvenile commits a crime in order to prevent future crimes from happening. Addressing these issues can help to prevent juvenile delinquency in the future.
- Family Life
If a child has a rough family life, it’s more likely that they will fall into criminal activity. When parents are not emotionally or physically available to guide their children, it makes them feel empty and lost, thus leading to trouble. Therefore, in an effort to fill this gap, many children turn to crime.
- Violence in Surroundings
Violence at home or violence in the friend circle is another major factor in juvenile delinquency. Children who are physically or emotionally hurt lash out in various ways. Violence of any sort can be harmful to a child who does not know why it is occurring or how to protect himself from it. Abuse is also one of the leading factors of juvenile crime.
- Peer Pressure
Peer pressure from direct acquaintances can affect how a juvenile reacts to bad situations. Children want to ‘belong’ within their peer group. If their friends are committing law-breaking acts, the children may feel pressured to do the same to be accepted.
Types of special homes:
Juveniles stand a high chance of being wrongly influenced in special homes due to lack of personal care and attention.
- Resource Centres
It’s a place where psych-social support services and guidance are provided to children in conflict with law and other needy children.
These provide food, shelter, clothing and counselling to the children referred by the Juvenile Justice Boards (JJB) and Child Welfare Committees.
- Special Homes
The children in conflict with the law are allowed to stay in the Special Homes for rehabilitation for a period of 3 years. Many services are provided within these homes such as education, vocational training, counselling etc. The state governments are empowered to maintain and establish special homes in every district or every group of districts. States may do so either by themselves or under an agreement with voluntary organizations.
- Observation Homes
These homes are meant for the temporary reception of juveniles who are alleged to have come in conflict with the law. Observation homes house the children whose enquiries are pending before the JJBs. Only children in conflict with law are produced before the Juvenile Justice Board constituted as per the section 4 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000. The arrested children are normally detained under probation up to 4 months in these homes.
Problems faced by Institutionalized Children:
It’s important to understand that juveniles are forced to commit crimes for many reasons. These issues can affect children and have immediate as well as long-term consequences, consequently impairing their ability to function normally.
Children kept in these homes undergo separation anxiety, lack of bonding and loneliness leading to monotony and lack of creativity. They also experience emotional deprivation, anonymity and lack of personal attention, which frustrates the motive of placing the children in these homes.
The behavioural problems amongst the institutionalised children include restlessness, difficulty in concentration and becoming more aggressive, among others. They face difficulty in adjusting in society and fail to form relations based on trust. They also depict poor study habits.
There are strict rules in various homes like denial of children to talk to their inmates, or the officials/superintendents. Lack of friendly behaviour shown by the caretakers causes the juvenile to become more unfriendly and rude.
Solutions to eradicate this problem?
The 3 C’s (functions) of care-givers are Connect, Care and Cope and the 4 A’s (qualities) are Acceptance, Approval, Attention and Appreciation.
They have to provide crucial psycho-social support for children during emergency situations to help them overcome tough experiences. These efforts can include culturally and age-appropriate activities, such as sports and games to develop life skills and coping mechanisms.
Many people involved in spirituality teach principles (the art of living, thinking and leading a worthwhile life) which are not similar to religious institutions and are universal to all. The author strongly believes that spiritual institutions will be of great help in imparting certain values in children, like how to recreate their belief system, and how to interact with living beings, etc. Implementing this would produce tremendous transformation amongst the juveniles and they might become a more successful human being.
“The faces of young people are the faces of our past, present and future. No segment in the society can match the power, idealism, enthusiasm and courage of the young people.”
More often than not, institutionalization ends up causing more harm than good to a child. Children need space that nurtures and moulds them into a responsible and contributing citizen of the society and the nation.
In conclusion, we can safely state that merely placing juveniles under special care institutions or observation homes won’t suffice. We need to take newer actions in order to safeguard and groom the future generation.
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