The aspirations and life goals of youth offenders at Lindelani Place of Safety
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Rising crime rates among the youth in South Africa is a major problem. In the Western Cape this concern is particularly urgent and is compounded by issues relating to gangsterism and drugs. This study analyses why youth offenders, based at Lindelani become involved in crime and how they subsequently see their future. The first part of the study reviews theories of crime and deviance, such as the classical school of criminology, psychological, biological and sociological explanations of crime. The usefulness of the criminological developmentalist approach toward identifying risk factors statistically correlated to the perpetration of crime is discussed. Common factors associated with crime in the South African context are identified including family, peers, gang, drug, school, media and neighbourhood related factors as well as the absence of spirituality. Thereafter the literature associated with the development of aspirations, life goals and the concept of possible selves is explained. The relationship between possible selves, aspirations and life goals are discussed and details regarding how possible selves influence delinquency are presented. Following the theoretical analysis, the problem of crime in South Africa with reference to the youths interviewed is outlined. The strategies pursued by government to combat crime are discussed and the effective potential of these approaches are evaluated. An overview of government’s policy toward youth in South Africa is given followed by specific reference to the issues surrounding youth and crime in the Western Cape, with explicit reference to the Cape Flats and gangs. This provides the background to the Lindelani case study. An overview of the operations and challenges facing Lindelani Place of Safety and the profile of offences typically committed by youth are given. Hereafter the findings are presented. The findings are divided into two sections; the first explores the life world of youth at Lindelani by discussing why youth in the Western Cape perpetrate crime and identifies factors that are associated with their involvement. The findings report on the influence of family and household structure, peers, neighbourhood environment, gangs, drugs, school, media, perceived aptitude of youth offenders, role models and spirituality. Section two presents the findings regarding the possible selves, life goals and aspirations of the youth. The general aspirations, possible selves, family aspirations, friendship, neighbourhood, spiritual, educational and occupational aspirations are explored. The study thereby presents the voices of these young offenders.