This study is concerned with children and youths in conflict with the law, who are additionally at risk of becoming or being in need of care. The study eventuated from concern for neglected children and youths from poor, disadvantaged and violent communities in the Western Cape Province, who inevitably lapsed into crime. Child and youth care, including juvenile justice, in South Africa is presently in a process of transformation, managed by the inter-ministerial committee on young people at risk. As an outcome of the transformation of the juvenile justice system, assessment centres were established at juvenile courts. Probation officers were appointed in terms of the Probation Services Act (Act 116 of 1991) to assess arrested children and youths before their first court appearance in view of a suitable awaiting trial placement and possible diversion of the criminal case. The researcher investigated how arrested children and youths, being in need of care, are managed within the criminal justice system. The research study showed that in spite of the implementation of policies and legislation to protect children and youths from detention in prison, the number of children and youths in prisons awaiting trial has steadily increased. A continuous shortage of vacancies in awaiting trial places of safety exists. It has further been established that professionals such as magistrates, prosecutors and probation officers recognize the needs of arrested children and youths who are additionally at risk of being or becoming in need of care. Factors such as the existing lack of vacancies in awaiting trial places of safety however result in children and youths not being protected in terms of care in all instances. The research study also indicated that arrested children and youths who are current subjects of the Child Care Act (Act 74 of 1983) as amended are often not effectively managed within the criminal justice system. A lack of sufficient knowledge of the said Child Care Act by especially prosecutors appears to be a contributing factor. A comprehensive criminal justice system for children and youths in South Africa is being envisaged, as contained in the draft Bill (Bill B), which will enable individualized but holistic services in respect of children and youths in conflict with the law. The role and tasks of probation officers carrying out assessments have as such become a key element in the management of arrested children and youths, as contained in the draft Bill (Bill B). Probation officers therefore play a significant role in advising the court regarding the appropriate management of arrested children and youths who are at risk of becoming or being in need of care.
|Subject 2||Social work|
|Degree Type||Masters degree|