Background: The term 'children in conflict with the law' refers to anyone under 18 who comes into contact with the justice system as a result of being suspected or accused of committing an offense (UNICEF, 2006). Most children in conflict with the law have committed petty crimes or such minor offences as vagrancy, truancy, begging or alcohol use. Some of these are known as 'status offenses' and are not considered criminal when committed by adults. Filipino children who come into conflict with the law are often from marginalized groups including street youth, drug users, and those with interrupted education who have limited access to the family and societal structures meant to protect them. These children straddle the child and adult worlds and, in some ways, get the worst of each. The profile of Children in conflict with the law has always been rooted to poverty as the major factor related to it. The case studies show that poverty is one of the factors invariably linked to children's vulnerability and one of the tipping factors in producing domestic violence. All these put together contribute significantly to placing children "at risk" and to pushing them to live outside their homes and among their peer group or to running away from home altogether (WHO, 2004). Very few studies have looked into the emotional aspect of these children. Determining the emotional intelligence might bring about new advances in the understanding of their situation. This study will focus on the comparison of emotional intelligence of identified children in conflict with the law who are placed in rehabilitation and normal adolescents or non-high risk adolescents. Establishing the difference between the two groups will help establish the management and proper procedures which concerned groups should take into consideration when they are faced with these children.
Objectives: To compare the trait emotional intelligence of Children in Conflict with the Law and non-high risk adolescents aged 14-18 years old in Cavite.
Study Design: This is a matched case-control study. Case control study, also known as case history, or retrospective study, involves a backward or non-directional design that compares a group of cases and a group of non-cases with respect to a current or a previous study factor level. In this study, the CICL served as the cases and the Non-CICL or the non-high risk adolescents served as the control group.
Summary and Conclusion: This study evaluated and compared the emotional intelligence of children in conflict with the law in comparison with non-high risk adolescents aged 14-18 years old using the Trait Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire Adolescents Short Form and identified the socio-demographic factors of both groups. The mean age of the study population is 16.4 years old with a male-to-female ratio of 6:1. This showed a significant difference on the educational attainment of the study population, history of achievement and history of truancy of both groups. However, there is no statistical difference on the other variables evaluated which includes the family background, parental custody, occupational status of parents and history of violence. Comparison of the emotional intelligence of the cases and controls was statistically significant and revealed a lower trait EI mean score for the CICL group compared with the NON-CICL group. The factors which are deemed to be contributory are well-being and sociability. The facets identified to be significant are optimism, happiness, impulsiveness, and emotion management. This study proved that there is a need to assess the emotional intelligence of children in conflict with the law. The results found in this research can actually be the core of the evaluation and rehabilitation of CICL. Since the CICL scored low on the aspects mentioned, it is necessary to address the problem by focusing diversion and intervention programs on these facets.
Recommendation: This study recommends that identified CICL should undergo emotional intelligence assessment. Diversion and intervention programs should include activities that will address problems on well-being, sociability and impulsivity. It may take the form of an individualized program that will target the adolescent's negative traits and may include counseling and educational activities, skills training, anger management, and other activities that can enhance his/her psychological, emotional and psychosocial well-being. The present study is only limited to a small population of CICL and other contributing factors of being a CICL should also be evaluated. Also, future studies can also expand on using the Trait EI as a risk-assessment for adolescents. This can open new areas on the prevention of adolescents on becoming high-risk adolescents or even on becoming in conflict with the law.
To compare the trait emotional intelligence of Children in Conflict with the Law and non-high risk adolescents aged 14-18 years old in Cavite.