Helping Youth at Risk

(Western Cape Government)
Youths at risk are learners who have drug- or alcohol-related problems or are in trouble with the law. Their emotional and/or behavioural problems are barriers to their learning and development.

Issues Facing the Youth

Youths that leave the school system early are extremely vulnerable and susceptible to negative and criminal behaviour. These youths are unprepared to succeed in the open labour market, leading to joblessness and poverty.

Other factors that are prevalent in the Western Cape include alcohol and drug abuse, gangsterism and illegal firearm possession. According to statistics, young men in high-risk areas who are exposed to high levels of crime and violence from a very young age are more vulnerable to becoming involved in crime. Young women are more prone to become victims of gender-based violent crimes, such as assault and rape.

What Types of Youth are at Risk?

Youths at risk include children and youth who have been affected by:

  • Poor parenting or family disintegration.
  • Crime, violence, poverty, inadequate housing and health conditions.
  • Poor school performance.
  • Negative peer pressure and a low self-esteem.
  • A lack of self-control to deal with anger discrimination.
  • Inadequate job skills training.

What Interventions are There for Youth at Risk?

In the Western Cape, there are five levels of support to prevent or resolve youth-related problems. The type of support and the restrictions placed on the learner depend on the nature of the problem. Interventions include educational, therapeutic and/or residential support services.

The five levels are: Prevention in all schools, early intervention in all schools, school-based support programmes, youth care and education centres and special youth care and education centres.

  • Prevention in All Schools: Aimed at identifying children and families who may be particularly vulnerable; this early warning system is implemented in all schools. Every effort is made in the classroom to prevent emotional and/or behavioural difficulties from occurring or worsening.
  • Early Intervention in All Schools: Emotional support and guidance are provided for learners who are struggling with emotional and/or behavioural barriers to learning in the classroom.
  • School-Based Support Programmes: Provided for learners who are identified as being at risk of being expelled from school, being placed away from home, or entering the criminal justice system, and for whom temporary withdrawal from the classroom is necessary.
  • Youth Care and Education Centres: If the learner does not benefit adequately from the support programme, referral to a residential or developmental programme at a youth care and education centre may be considered. The centres provide accommodation and a structured programme. The framework for good practice in these institutions is based on the standards laid down by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
  • Special Youth Care and Education Centres: Provided to young people who are in conflict with the law or in severe emotional turmoil and who may need to be physically, emotionally and/or behaviourally contained. Young people are referred to these centres by the courts under the relevant legislation for compulsory residence. Each young person is provided with an individual development plan to help him or her to be rehabilitated. A psychologist, occupational therapist, professional nurse and social worker are available at the centre for consultation. The educators are specially trained in child care theory and practice.

Who to Contact?

Contact these youth care and education centres in the Western Cape:

Youth Care Centre Contact
Bonnytoun Youth Care Centre Tel: 021 987 1464
Bosasa Horizon Youth Care Centre Tel: 044 843 3860
Die Bult Youth Care Centre Tel: 044 801 7600
De Novo Special Youth Care Centre Tel: 021 703 3030
Eureka Youth Care Centre Tel: 023 349 1807/8
Ottery Youth Care Centre Tel: 021 703 3030
Wellington Youth Care Centre Tel: 021 873 1068/9

You can contact these Care Centres for youths awaiting trail and those that have be sentenced.

Awareness Programmes

The Department of Social Development, through its awareness programmes, aims to empower youths and enable them to take responsibility for positive lifestyles by providing the following:

  • Youth Safety Ambassador Programme: This programme targets 50 high schools in marginalised areas and focuses on leadership and community safety skills.
  • Sondeza Holiday Programmes in the Swartland Area (West Coast Region): Provides youth with leadership and international relationship skills.
  • Youth leadership camps.
  • Mass Opportunity Development (MOD) Centres: A collaboration between the Departments of Social Development, Education and Culture, Arts and Sport to provide after-school educational, sports and cultural activities as well as nutrition and social welfare services.
  • Two Oceans Academy in Goodwood (Metro North) and Oasis Academy in Schaapkraal (Metro South): Assists with personal development through life skills and sport.
  • Chrysalis Academy in Tokai (Metro South): Provides youth with job skills, life skills and education.
  • Gender-based violence prevention programmes to youth in all regions.
The content on this page was last updated on 15 March 2014