Social work prevention programmes for pre-teen sexual offenders
Thesis (DPhil (Social Work))--University of Stellenbosch, 2005.
It is generally accepted that pre-teen sexual offences are becoming a widespread problem in South Africa and social workers are ill-equipped to render a competent service to prevent these youth offenders from re-offending. To date, the social, judicial and legislative systems do not provide any definite guidelines to prevent pre-teen sexual offenders from re-offending. The purpose of this study was to present guidelines which could serve as a framework when designing prevention programmes for pre-teen sex offenders. With the results of the study an attempt will be made to augment the knowledge and skills in this area in the social service delivery system, in order to render a professional and effective service to prevent pre-teen sexual offenders from reoffending. The objectives of the study were: first, to explain policy under the South African criminal justice system regarding crime according to the Sexual Offences Act, no 23 of 1957, and the Child Care Act, no 74 of 1983, as well as government and non-government services available to children under the age of 13 who sexually offend; second, to describe the social and personal circumstances of pre-teen sexual offenders in order to illustrate the nature of the deviant sexual behaviour of these children and to determine the need for prevention programmes; third, to reflect on the nature and function of prevention programmes for pre-teen sexual offenders and to investigate the need for social workers to utilize these programmes in welfare agencies in South Africa; fourth, to determine the nature of social work programmes which social workers in welfare agencies are using to address the needs and/or problems of pre-teen sexual offenders; and finally, to describe the knowledge and practice skills needed by social workers to design prevention programmes for pre-teen sexual offenders. The literature review was focused on research findings relating to issues examined in this study. An exploratory research design for the study was confined to a purposive sample of 79 respondents who were identified from a universe of 130 social workers to assess their need to develop prevention programmes in order to render a competent service to pre-teen sex offenders and their families. The results were analysed mainly quantitatively. The empirical study enabled the researcher to draw certain conclusions. The main finding was that pre-teen sex offences were on the increase, and that social workers therefore required ever greater knowledge and skills to empower them to use existing prevention of re-offending programmes for preteen sexual offenders, or alternatively, needed to develop their own such programmes. A number of recommendations flowed from the findings. The main recommendation was that welfare organisations rendering child care service should ensure that social workers have at their disposal a diverse knowledge and skills base consisting of the most significant prevention models and approaches to enable them to design their own prevention programmes for pre-teen sexual offenders. The welfare organisations should further supply social workers with training opportunities to enable them to design prevention programmes, thereby empowering them to render a professional service to pre-teen sexual offenders and their families. Finally, preventing pre-teen sex offenders from reoffending should be a state-driven initiative and national and provincial governments should provide adequate policies and facilities for the implementation of prevention programmes for pre-teen sexual offenders.