Source: (2001) Social Justice Research Project. Institute Of Criminology, University of Capetown. Downloaded 25 June 03.
THE extent and seriousness of sexual abuse of children by other children has only recently been recognised as a problem in South Africa. As a result, children are seldom prosecuted or held accountable for their abusive behaviour. Furthermore, those who are prosecuted often receive postponed or suspended community service sentences due to an absence of appropriate sentencing options. In response, SAYStOP (South African Young Sex Offenders Project) was formed for the purpose of developing innovative and effective interventions to treat and manage young sex offenders. This paper outlines both the process involved in the development of an appropriate diversion programme and the implementation strategy adopted to ensure the long-term viability of this programme. Initially, the extent and nature of the problem in South Africa is briefly sketched. A description of the process involved in the development of the diversion programme follows. In this discussion, the focus is on the content and structure of this programme. Emphasis is placed on the uniqueness of the South African context and the challenges faced in dealing with issues such as poverty, rural/urban disparity, cultural differences, language barriers and varying levels of literacy. The second part of the paper focuses on the implementation of the diversion programme. Here, the initial piloting of the programme through one district court and the subsequent pilot expansion to twelve further magisterial districts are examined. This extension process presented a new series of challenges. The manner in which these were addressed in order to ensure the relevance and sustainability of the project is analysed. Finally, the lessons learnt throughout this process are examined, concluding with recommendations for the future development of this project. Authors’ Abstract.
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