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.

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According to a research bulletin by the Centre for Justice and Crime Prevention, young people are significantly more likely than adults to be either victims or offenders of crime.

The bulletin also revealed that the ages between 12 and 21 are the peak years for both offending and victimisation. Added to this, the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services’ Annual Report reveals that as at the 30th April 2015, 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 population falls within this high risk age category.

Soraya Solomon, CEO 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. Around the country NICRO will be running workshops with parents over the two weeks on either side of Youth Day. These are designed to help them enhance their parenting skills in order to protect their children from the negative influences that surround them, guide them and enable them to reach their full potential,” shares 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 Youth Diversion Programme

The NICRO Youth Diversion Programme provides children and young people who have committed a crime with an alternative to the court process by channelling them away from the formal criminal justice system into a wide range of impactful developmental and therapeutic programmes. “Not only do they avoid criminal charges and a criminal record; they are afforded significant opportunities to take responsibility for and change their criminal behaviour, repair the damage they have caused, acquire fundamental life skills and become productive, responsible and law abiding citizens who are an asset, rather than a danger or burden, to our communities,” explains Solomon.

She adds, “The Diversion Programme also benefits society by dealing early and quickly with delinquent and criminal behaviour. Early intervention, in turn, saves the tax payer vast sums of money by reducing the burden on the police services. “

NICRO’s Crime Prevention Programmes

“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,” says Solomon.

She adds that violence occurs in schools around the world, but in South Africa the situation is particularly acute with gang violence, weapons in school, sexual violence, assault, theft, robbery and vandalism becoming part of the daily reality for both learners and educators.

Solomon explains 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.”

NICRO’s Crime Prevention Programmes improve the lives of children and their future development and success in life by reducing and ultimately eliminating crime and violence in schools and creating a safe, empowering learning environment. The programmes’ methodologies are based on changing behaviour by changing the way young people think and make decisions.

NICRO rendered its Diversion Programme to a total of 9 478 young people during 2014/15 financial year (4 729 beneficiaries between ages 16 to 22 and 4 749 between the ages of 23 and 35). The organisation also reaches approximately 10,000 youth annually through its crime prevention programmes and strategies.

“It is our hope that by continually devising and deploying constructive solutions like these amongst young people that we will break the cycle of crime and violence in South Africa. In order to effectively prevent our youth from committing crime, we need to scale the resources in proportion to the magnitude of the problem. It is only by committing the necessary resources to the challenges experienced by our young people that we will make the difference we want to achieve,” concludes Solomon.