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Tackling Juvenile Crime Effectively and Building Safer Communities

Categories: ALL THE NEWS , Offenders and Ex-offenders rehabilitation
-heated debates and power struggles are the order of the day while enthusiastic voters continue to voice their frustration

As South Africa gears up for the May national election, heated debates and power struggles are the order of the day while enthusiastic voters continue to voice their frustration in general and slow service delivery in particular in various ways and with increasingly violent protestations. Poor service delivery and the lack of proper infrastructure continue to fuel the commission of crime in our country.

One of the primary reasons for this is our failure to deal with the underlying causes of problems and the main challenges of our times.

South Africa remains deeply affected by wide-spread poverty and poor service delivery, while crime and violence still continue to ravage our communities. When crime continues to escalate, the quality of life of all citizens declines significantly and communities become battlefields in which residents become prisoners and all too often victims of a vast array of crimes. Under such conditions, poor service delivery inevitably becomes even poorer.

NICRO (The National Institute for Crime Prevention and the Rehabilitation of Offenders) is hard at work to change the face of crime and make a noticeable difference to the lives of all South Africans. We know from studies conducted over time in many countries that adolescence is the most common age for law breaking throughout one’s life span. Young people who become involved in petty acts of delinquency and minor crimes at a very young age are likely to continue committing crime. It is for this reason that NICRO launched an innovative crime prevention initiative in schools around the country.

The schools-based Safety Ambassadors Programme was conceptualised against the backdrop of thousands of young people entering the criminal justice system as offenders, and the urgent need to stem the growing incidence of juvenile crime in South Africa. This called for the establishment of a crime prevention programme under the banner and guidance of NICRO as a national organisation to whom a large portion of the South Africans population looks as a popular resource to deal with crime and youthful offenders.

This intervention is grounded in the concept of developing and mentoring “safety ambassadors” at secondary school level. Safety ambassadors are selected young people who have been empowered with the necessary skills, knowledge, experience and motivation to serve as positive role models. Safety ambassadors interact with and positively influence circles of youth, dissuading them from participating in anti-social behaviour and criminal activities.

NICRO has as well recently launched Safety Ambassador Programme at KwaMfundo Secondary School. The school is situated in the Cape Town Township of Khayelitsha, where communities have recently fallen victim to a wave of crime and violence. This is just one of many educational facilities which has grabbed the unique opportunity of participating in the programme which focuses on reducing crime by creating community partnerships that lead to pro-social community action and an enabling, supportive environment that is conducive to individual and group change. In this way the future leaders of our country promote pro-social values, healthy lifestyles and positive behaviours amongst their peers and within their communities.

NICRO expresses the fervent hope that those who celebrate victory in the forthcoming elections will take a strong stand against crime, introduce effective measures to protect young people and combat juvenile law breaking in our communities, while creating safe communities in which proper service delivery can be undertaken.

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