CHILDREN in Conflict with Law or the CICLs have reached the total number of 331 this quarter with only 60 in shelters.

What is the life of the CICLs outside the bars where they are exempted?

Are they truly as free as others have assumed?

According to an interview with Davao City Social Development Officer Ms. Gina A. Moron, CSSDO child and youth focal/technical person this is not the case.

"When you say Juvenile Justice there is no children that can be imprisoned that is the basic concept of the law. Because it is restorative, it means the children 15 below can't be filed a case but he will be given intervention which means that he/she will be given back to his/her family of course with the assessment of the social workers. The social workers will hold them. If the child is 15 up and would become a CICL, he/she will undergo diversion," Moron said in the vernacular.

According to her the involvement of the parents, barangay and the community are also included in the process.

In diversion, the barangay council and social workers are tasked to work together where the CICL is supposed to do some community volunteer work.

"Aside from that child will undergo activities where he or she could realize their accountability," she added.

There is also a number of hours for community work given. This is determined through a negotiation with the barangay, the parents, the CICL and the social workers.

The child should be properly consulted on how much time he can really dedicate to community work, this is aside from his or her daily reporting to the social worker assigned.

"They have journals (for each child). Aside from that social workers also do psychosocial intervention which means that the there is a constant visit with the child and there is also a follow up in counseling which the child must have constant attendance," she added.

Children aged 15 up can undergo diversion within the community or in a shelter. This will depend on the gravity of the crime committed. Those who committed heinous crimes stay at the shelters since they are more at risk.

The shelter is actually another service of the CSSDO. One shelter they have is the Bahay Pag-asa located in Talomo. According to Moron they also house children who have used illegal drugs and aid their rehabilitation. Like all other CICL are still undergoing diversion.

Like all other the agreements, diversion also has a period of six months.

"But, it depends upon the capability of the child to transform. He can cope fast he can shorten then diversion period is shorted. But there is also the possibility that the six-month will lapse without much development and so the process will have to be repeated. But we have a limit, of course there is a limit," Moron said.

Even if there is an enough ratio social workers to handle their cases in the entire Davao City, the CSSDO City Social Development Officer Ms. Gina A. Moron in the end encouraged parents and the community to help and establish effective measures and not to turn a blind eye on the existence of a number of the CICLs in the city.