The Union Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) has developed standard operating procedures (SOP) for the rehabilitation of children in conflict with law under the Juvenile Justice System.
The SOP aims to emphasize cause of rehabilitation and social reintegration by providing for types of institutional care such as after-care services, foster care and sponsorship to these children. It is based on the principles of presumptive innocence and is in the best interest of the child.
SOP’s objective is to reduce incarceration while protecting children from violence, abuse and exploitation. It promotes rehabilitation which involves families and communities as a safer, appropriate and effective approach rather than punitive measures.
Psychiatrists welcomed the Ministry’s decision saying it was required.
Dr Harish Shetty, Psychiatrist at Dr LH Hiranandani Hospital, said, “The SOP should be on pilot basis and tested. It needs to be reviewed in six months to understand its flaws and strengths.”
The SOP has been designed to be a useful guide for stakeholders while dealing with children in conflict with law such as functionaries of child care institutions, Juvenile Justice Boards / Children’s Courts, National and State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, State / UT Governments and Police among others.
The Ministry adopted a consultative process in developing the SOP by engaging with experts and advocates on issues of child rights and National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR).
It was also placed on WCD website for seeking comments from various stakeholders.
Dr Milan Balakrishnan, Psychiatrist at Bombay Hospital, said, “These children generally stay disconnected with society and do not have the ability to empathise with others. If not intervened at an early stage, they grow up with an anti-social behaviour and will indulge in crimes.”
The SOP will help to provide possibilities and opportunities to children in conflict with law to reintegrate into the society.