An examination of the dynamics of the family systems on the lives of youth awaiting trial at the Excelsior Place of Safety Secure Care Centre.
The main aim of the study was an examination of the dynamics of family systems on the lives of youth awaiting trial at the Excelsior Place of Safety that functions as a secure care programme. Secure care is a new concept in South Africa and serves as an alternative to the imprisonment of children awaiting trial. The study identifies the family as central in adolescent development and assumes that there are particular dynamics within family systems that may impact on the lives of youth resulting in deviancy and criminality. The study was based on the philosophy of secure care, Erikson's theory of Adolescent Development, Attachment theory, the Ecosystems and Ecological Strengths-Based Approaches. Twenty-five youth awaiting trial were interviewed at Excelsior. The study found that children who offend come from impoverished communities where the household income is less than the Poverty Datum Line (PDL.) High-risk youth come from women-headed households that lack male role models and have little or no source of income. In these instances where the family cannot provide for the youth's needs that the youth is prone to criminality to satisfy them. The study recommended strengthened intervention strategies to be utilised by all service providers in working with youth at risk and their families. It also recommends the strengthening of the secure care programme to address the needs of awaiting trial youth and to divert youth from the prison environment. The study further suggested that secure care centres that have trained personnel in adolescent development, should undertake more community outreach to also target children and youth in communities.
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