CHILD JUSTICE IN PRACTICE: The diversion of young offenders
South Africa’s democratic transition ushered in a new era in child justice reform efforts. The Child Justice Act 75 of 2008 is arguably one of the best pieces of child justice legislation in the world. A central objective of the Act is to encourage the diversion of young offenders away from formal court procedures, giving children the opportunity to express their views on the circumstances of their offending behaviour. An intriguing issue remains the introspection of children themselves on their behaviour and how they are being dealt with by the justice system. This article reports on a preliminary analysis of feedback from children who were diverted to a particular diversion programme, to determine key reasons for youth offending behaviour and to understand their engagement with the diversion process and the diversion programme itself. The many intersecting risk factors at the individual, relationship, community and societal levels that are likely to impact on a child’s likelihood of engaging in anti-social or criminal behaviour, are also highlighted.
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