Children in conflict with law

According to UNICEF, the term 'children in conflict with the law' refers any person below 18 years who has come in contact with the justice system for committing a crime or has been suspected of committing a crime. Most children in conflict with the law have committed petty crimes such as vagrancy, truancy, begging or alcohol use. But there are some who have committed serious offenses such as murder or sexual assault. Some children are coerced into crime by adults, knowing that kids would get away with lenient punishment.

In India, children in conflict with law are governed by the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 which replaced the earlier Juvenile Justice Act, 2000. The law relates to children alleged or found to be in conflict with the law and seeks to protect children in need of care by catering to their basic needs, adopting a child-friendly approach to adjudicate matters and to rehabilitate them. Children in conflict with the law or juvenile offenders have to be presented before the Juvenile Justice Board in each city. This statutory institution has been set up under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015. However, in many cases children are reported to the police, who then follow protocols set up for each case. In some cases children are provided with legal support.

Read More - Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015

Case Study

Group of boys charged with theft given counselling sessions by CHILDLINE India Foundation

Children are born innocent, however, due to multiple factors, many children adopt behaviours which are defined as delinquent and being “in conflict with law”. These behaviours range from petty theft, substance abuse to more serious types of crimes. CHILDLINE India Foundation Kangra received information from Anti-Human Trafficking of Kangra, Himachal Pradesh about a group of boys who were taken into custody by the police for chargers of theft. CHILDLINE India Foundation immediately went to the police station and met the children. A CHILDLINE India Foundation counsellor counselled all the children and during the counselling session, children shared that they all were friends and resided in same colony. They also revealed that few days back they had stolen a tap from their colony for money to buy tickets for a magic show. After listening to the whole incident, the CHILDLINE India Foundation counsellor counselled all children and made them aware of the consequences of their actions. After their interaction, the CHILDLINE India Foundation team handed over the children to their parents, but they were still in touch with children during further visits to know the outcomes of counselling. Few days later, the CHILDLINE India Foundation team met the children for extended counselling support. During the counselling session, the team noticed that the children were all under influence of alcohol. The CHILDLINE India Foundation team once again counselled them saying that they should concentrate on their studies and also the fact that alcohol can harm them mentally as well as physically. Later CHILDLINE India Foundation team visited children’s place and met their parents. Upon interaction, the team got a positive response from the parents. There were repeated counselling sessions done by CHILDLINE India Foundation team with the children to encourage them to choose a better path. Every child has the inherent potential to grow up and achieve his or her full potential and contribute positively towards the growth of nation and society.

(*Name and details changed to protect the child)