Nicro News

NICRO Responds to Crime Stats indicating South Africans are Under Siege

The recent release of the crime statistics report, which details crime levels in South Africa between April 1, 2016 and March 31 this year, has once again solicited mixed reactions from Government, political parties and civil society.

The Making of a Criminal: Part 2

We are delighted to invite you to participate in our exciting events we are hosting at the Artscape Theatre from 28 to 30 September.

Confessions of a Shoplifter

I started shoplifting when I was six years old.

While you’ve suspected it for a while, there comes a point when there is no denying that your young child is different.

Uncontrollable outbursts and aggressive behavior are beyond your control, and you realize that you need to seek help.


But what will that that mean for your child?


Children are complicated little people. They have a hard time controlling their behaviours, regulating their emotions, and displaying empathy toward others. All of this is normal. Every once in a while, however, we see a child with behaviours that could indicate that he might become violent in the future. Some of these behaviours look a lot like normal childhood behaviour, but upon closer inspection, they are more extreme, start earlier, and last longer.


So, what are the warning signs? You should pay close attention to the following risk-factors:


Outbursts of anger and physical aggression. The most obviously troubling behaviours are angry outbursts and physical aggression. Not run of the mill temper tantrums; real rage from little provocation.


Violence toward people and animals. Another troubling warning sign is violence toward people and/or animals. Your observation of this type of behaviour should be two pronged: You need to pay attention to the aggressive behaviour itself, as well as the child’s response to his behaviour. A child who exhibits little or no remorse or guilt for hurting others is at risk for future violence.


Acts of defiance and sensation seeking. While some acts of risk taking, defiance, and boundary testing are rites of passage, it would be good to be mindful of children who take this behaviour to the extreme. Specifically, a child who doesn’t fear consequences might have little regard for laws as an adult. If you take this fearless attitude and couple it with sensation seeking behaviour, then you have a person who craves the rush of committing a crime with no fear of being caught.


A history of being bullied. Some warning signs are more subtle but still important to notice and address. For example, a child who has been bullied could be at greater risk for violence later in life. It feels unfair to identify this type of victim as a potential violent offender, but the fact is that being victimized can be a risk factor for future violent behaviour.


Social withdrawal, isolation, or depression. Social withdrawal, isolation, and depression in children are also traits that should be noted. Being socially isolated certainly does not make someone a criminal, but it is a trait that deserves your attention, especially if it exists in combination with other risk factors mentioned above.


A fascination with the macabre. Lastly, when examining the history of some offenders, we see a fascination with weapons and/or the macabre. These types of interests alone do not increase someone’s likelihood of being violent. They do, however, warrant some parental oversight, especially when the child is focused on them to the exclusion of all other interests.

Let’s move on to the good news: In most cases, you can change the trajectory of an at-risk child. Their futures aren’t immutable; even biological and genetic predispositions for criminal behaviour doesn’t equate to destiny. There have been numerous studies that test interventions aimed at addressing both environmental and biological risk factors in children.


There have been interventions tested at both the individual and community level that have shown very promising results in reducing the future likelihood of violent behaviour. They include:


Medication. One of the first lines of defence, although not always popular, is medication. Mood-regulating drugs, especially antipsychotics, have been very effective in reducing aggression in children.


Community prevention programs. Non-profit organisations, such as NICRO, are known to help and have incredible results in regard to reducing the risk of future criminal activity. Similar programs that focused on counselling pregnant women on reducing smoking and alcohol use, along with how to tend to the social, emotional, and physical needs of their infant, have provided similar results.


Biofeedback. If you prefer a drug-free intervention, biofeedback is a type of medical treatment that studies have shown can actually change the brain wave activity.


Mindfulness and meditation. Studies have shown that meditation and mindfulness training can reduce aggression. You might laugh at the idea of teaching a 5-year-old to meditate, but it works.


All of these interventions have been shown to decrease the risk of future violence. It takes a concerned and informed parent to act, but the longer you wait, the more difficult it becomes. In addition to destroying lives and families, violence puts a tremendous financial burden on society. Think about this: jailing violent offenders is exponentially more expensive than implementing early intervention programs!