The influence of a diversion programme on the psycho-social functioning of youth in conflict with the law in the Northwest Province
Van Biljon, Daleen
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Diversion is a process of channelling children away from the formal court system to programmes that are re-integrative. A child can be diverted when he / she acknowledges responsibility for the act and both he / she and his / her parents or guardians agree to go the diversion route. This option allows a child to avoid the stigmatising and often brutalising effects of criminal justice system incarceration, as well as affording the child the opportunity to avoid a criminal record. Diversion is very closely linked to the concept of restorative justice. Restorative justice is about offenders making amends for what they have done and trying to heal relationships between offenders and their victims, families and communities. Khulisa, a non-profit crime prevention organisation, presents various programmes for youth in conflict with the law. One of the programmes, the "Positively Cool" Diversion Programme, is a life skills programme incorporating a number of essential skills necessary for the effective management of a child's life. The focus of this study was on this specific diversion programme. The aim of the research was to evaluate the influence of the diversion programme on the psycho-social functioning of the child in conflict with the law. A combined qualitative and quantitative research approach was followed. Eighteen children in conflict with the law from the North-West Province, participated in the research. They completed pre- and post-test questionnaires, as well as a self-developed qualitative questionnaire. The research found that there was an improvement within the psycho-social functioning of those that successfully completed the diversion programme.