Young people are significantly more likely than adults to be either victims or offenders of crime, according to a research bulletin by the Centre for Justice and Crime Prevention.
The bulletin also revealed that the ages between 12 and 21 were the peak years for offending and victimisation.
In April last year, South Africa held 40 803 young people in prisons, says a report by the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services.
Added to this, the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Service’s annual report revealed that as at April 30 last year, South Africa held 40 803 youth between the ages of 18 and 25 in correctional centres.
With 20.2% of the country’s population being between the ages of 15 and 24, it is clear that a large proportion of South Africa’s falls within this high-risk age category.
Soraya Solomon,chief executive of Nicro (National Institute for Crime Prevention and the Reintegration of Offenders) says: “It is a worldwide trend that many crimes are committed by youth.
“In South Africa, the tendencies are similar, and there is a growing concern about the youthfulness of youth in conflict with the law, as well as the nature and seriousness of the crimes committed.”
“This Youth Day, our theme is ‘Unlocking 5-star Parenting – Be the Key’, which aims to encourage parents to be the kind of people they want their children to be.
“Nicro will be running workshops with parents countrywide.”
These are designed to enhance parenting skills to protect their children from the negative influences that surround them, guide them and enable them to reach their full potential, says Solomon.
In addition, as one of the oldest, national, non-profit organisations of its kind, Nicro is the first organisation in the country to develop intervention programmes specifically targeted at children and young people involved in crime.
These include a Youth Diversion Programme and Crime Prevention Programmes involving campaigns such as Safety Ambassadors and School is Cool.
Nicro also has a Youth Diversion Programme providing young offenders with an alternative to the court process by channelling them away from the formal criminal justice system into a range of developmental and therapeutic programmes.
“The Diversion Programme also benefits society by dealing early and quickly with delinquent and criminal behaviour.
“Early intervention, in turn, saves the taxpayer vast sums of money by reducing the burden on the police services,” Solomon says.
“The vast majority of young South Africans are exposed to an ever-increasing number of vulnerabilities and threats.
“These include challenges such as very high rates of crime, violence and substance abuse, especially in the school environment.”
Solomon explained that experiences of crime and violence within the school environment have a profoundly negative impact on children, their development and, in turn, their communities.
“Not only are such incidents likely to impact on a child’s attachment to school, leading to increased drop-out and truancy rates, low self-confidence and low levels of academic performance, but they are also likely to impact on young people’s later vulnerability to violence, as well as the likelihood of their own turning to crime and violence as they grow older.”
The diversion programme benefited 9 478 young people during the 2014/15 financial year – 4 729 of them between ages 16 to 22 while the organisation also reached approximately 10 000 youth every year through its crime-prevention programmes, says Solomon.[Source: Cape Argus]