C RIME PREVENTION AMONG YOUTH IN SOUTH AFRICA: AN INNOVATIVE APPROACH TO A COMPLEX PHENOMENON
Lockhat, R., University of the Western Cape, Brey, F., NICRO and Willamson, G., South Africa
It is often argued that crime in South Africa has reached epidemic proportions and that its citizens are under siege. The cumulative effect of the crime epidemic has been the subject of great public debate and has been at the forefront of political and media comment. It is against this background that the 'I'm Cool Like That' Crime Prevention Programme, in conjunction with The National Institute for Crime Prevention and Rehabilitation of Offenders (NICRO) was developed. The programme aims to reduce antisocial behaviour among youth, which is a sector of the South African population that has demonstrated alarming trends towards at-risk behaviours and criminality. The programme is based on cognitive- behavioural and ecosystemic principles, as well as Moral Reconative Therapy. It can best be described as an intervention that targets behavior modification by raising the moral reasoning of the individual through a systematic process of interaction and reflection. It involves, among others, group psychotherapy and various projective techniques with the aim of reducing antisocial behaviour among youth at school level and encouraging them to become 'Safety Ambassadors'. This paper discusses the pilot project (May 2001 to December 2001) which targeted 2 280 school-going youth. The project will now be implemented nationally and will target approximately 7 000 youth. The programme illustrates how the application of psychological principles, theory and techniques can enhance the effectiveness and acceptance of an anti-crime programme amongst communities.