Source: (2002) University of Cape Town, Institute of Criminology and Dept. of Psychology. Down loaded 25 June 2003.

This longitudinal study evaluates the outcomes and impact of the diversion programme developed and piloted on three occasions by SAYStOP (South African Young Sex Offenders Project) between 1997 and 1999. Method. The study set out to determine the effectiveness of the programme through gauging recidivism rates, assessing the impact of the programme content, and exploring the children's experience of attending the diversion programme. Semistructured interviews were conducted with children, who had attended one of the initial three SAYStOP diversion programmes and their caregivers. The interviews were conducted after a minimum time period of twelve month had past since their completion of the programme. Research problems resulted in only six of the 28 boys being interviewed. Results. The results suggested that SAYStOP had developed an intervention useful for holding children who have committed sexual offences accountable and providing them with an opportunity to reflect on their abusive behaviour. The sessions appeared to be fairly successful in accomplishing their individual aims and objectives. In particular, the children assessed seemed to have developed insight into their victim's feelings and realised the importance of responsible decision-making. Group work seemed to be necessary and a beneficial aspect. None of the children interviewed reported any sexual re-offending subsequent to attending the programme. The study highlighted numerous research and methodological difficulties inherent in this type of longitudinal evaluation study. These problems and recommendations for future follow-up studies are discussed. Conclusion. This study, while limited, provides initial support for the continued use of the SAYStOP diversion programme when dealing with certain types of children accused of committing sexual offences. Authors' Abstract.

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