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09PRETORIA2037 2009-10-08 11:05:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Pretoria
Cable title:  

CRIME THAT BEGETS CRIME: YOUTH VICTIMIZATION IN

Tags:   PREL PGOV SF 
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1. On September 29 the Centre for Justice and Crime
Prevention (CJCP) released two studies on the relation
between South African youth and anti-social behaviors. The
first presents results of its 2008 survey of 12 to
22-year-olds measuring the incidence of crime and violence
suffered by young people, who are victimized more often than
adults. With violence and criminality so characteristic of
the home, community, and school environments in which youth
are conditioned, the result is a vicious cycle in which high
rates of exposure lead to high incidence of offending. Septel
will describe CJCP's further research directly linking
victimization to perpetration of crime in South Africa, as
well as strategies and initiatives of various NGOs to help
communities break cycles of crime and violence. End Summary.



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Survey Overview


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2. CJCP is a private think tank based in Cape Town. Its
2008 National Youth Lifestyle Study surveyed 4,391 South
Africans aged 12 to 22. The sample was representative of
national demographics, across ages (in the 12-22 range),
genders, and races in rural and urban areas of South Africa's
nine provinces. (Socio-economic level was not screened by an
income measure but rather via a random selection of
households within 550 areas deemed representative.) The 2008
study is a follow-up to analogous research conducted among
4,409 young people in 2005. Respondents were asked about
their experiences in the last year related to crime;
fighting, corporal punishment, and bullying; and alcohol,
drugs, and weapons. (Note: the full report is online at
http://www.cjcp.org.za/admin/uploads/NYLS-fin al.pdf.)
Surveys are widely considered more accurate than official
statistics, given low levels of reporting to police, yet they
likely still understate the more sensitive issues like rape,
drug-taking, or criminal offending.



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Very Violent; Youth Hit Harder


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3. South Africa is a notoriously violent society, and young
people are victimized at disproportionately high rates. The
country's murder rate (37 per 100,000) is second highest in
the world (after Colombia), its rape rate is the highest of
any country not at war, and broad criminality has been ranked
by the U.N. in the top tier of countries. Against this
backdrop, CJCP's 2005 study found that young people were
subject to crime more frequently than adults -- particularly
to violent crimes like assault and robbery. The National
Injury Mortality Surveillance System (NIMSS)'s latest
mortuary data for 2007 indicates that 36 percent of
"non-natural" deaths were due to violence, making it the lead
cause (ahead of accidents) across the broad population. This
figure spikes among 15 to 24-year-olds, where 48 percent or
roughly half of all non-natural deaths are cases of homicide.
(Note: comparable U.S./CDC data for 2006 attribute eight
percent of injury deaths to homicide, with a peak of 22
percent in the 15-24 age bracket. End Note.)



4. As shown in the table below, youth victimization rates
are higher than those of adults across a range of crimes.
CJCP compares its own findings among youth to those of a 2007
survey by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) of 4,860
persons aged 16 and over. (CJCP asked about the prior twelve
months; ISS probed the prior three years.) Both CJCP and ISS
found declines in reported incidence of most crime types
compared to prior years, corroborating the statistics
Qcompared to prior years, corroborating the statistics
published by the South African Police, yet absolute levels
remain high -- and highest among young victims.



--------------------------



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Victimization Rates -- Youth vs. Adults


--------------------------



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Crime Category Youth (12 mos.) Adults (36 mos.)


--------------------------



--------------------------



--------------------------



- Theft 10.7 percent 2.1 percent
- Assault 8.4 percent 1.3 percent
- Housebreaking 7.6 percent 6.9 percent
- Robbery 5.7 percent 2.1 percent
- Sexual assault 2.1 " (reported) N/A
- Hijacking 1.3 percent N/A



--------------------------



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PRETORIA 00002037 002 OF 003


Sources: CJCP National Youth Lifestyle Survey 2008,
ISS National Crime and Victimisation Survey 2007


--------------------------



--------------------------





5. There was marked variation in crime prevalence by
province and race. CJCP respondents' reported incidence of
theft was as high as 32 percent in Kwa Zulu Natal (KZN) and
22 percent in the Western Cape -- i.e. one in three to five
young people falling victim in the last year alone --
compared to just 2.2 percent in Limpopo (the province showing
lowest levels of nearly every crime). Assault and sexual
assault rates were both highest in Mpumalanga (26 and 7.2
percent of respondents) and KZN (18 and 4.7 percent). (Note:
only an estimated one in nine rapes are reported to police;
it is very likely that these survey responses also reflect a
substantial degree of under-reporting.) Western Cape and
Gauteng led in robbery (21 and 14 percent). White and
Coloured respondents reported markedly higher rates of theft
and robbery and slightly higher rates of assault, but
Coloureds and Blacks reported the most sexual assault (4.4
and 3.7 percent). In every category except hijacking
Indians/Asians experienced the least crime.



--------------------------


Families: Absent or Poor Role Models


--------------------------





6. Demographics of the survey sample provide a profile of
respondents' home environments. Reflecting South Africa's
mix of fractured family structures, in which supervision and
suitable role models may be absent, under half lived with
both parents (40 percent), while the rest lived with a mother
only (29 percent), grandparents (14 percent), siblings and
other relatives (7 percent each), or father only (3 percent).
Eleven percent of respondents had become parents themselves,
at an average age of 18. A sizeable 59 percent lived in
households of five to ten members, yet stable support of
permanent employment was uneven: 27 percent of those
households had two or three persons fully employed, 44
percent had one such person, and 27 percent had no persons
fully employed.



7. Violence and criminality were not uncommmon in these
homes. Tendencies to lose temper (53 percent) or argue a lot
(18 percent) may be waved away as common to many families,
but here "hitting each other" (6.5 percent in the prior year)
was often preceded by consumption of alcohol or drugs (51
percent), included the use of weapons (32 percent), and
caused injuries serious enough to require medical treatment
(34 percent). One in six had a family member who had been in
jail, and among Coloured respondents this was nearly one in
three (30 percent). One in twenty reported a family member
who had used hard drugs (not marijuana) and/or dealt drugs
(of any kind) in the last year. In the Western Cape that
measure was twice the national average, with a whopping 9.0
percent reporting hard drug use in the family and 2.8 percent
family drug dealing.



--------------------------


Communities: Drugs, Weapons Rife


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8. Crime was more characteristic at the community level,
with a potent influence on impressionable youth. More than
14 percent knew drug dealers, including the youngest aged
12-14 (10.3 percent). A third of respondents knew persons
who made a living from crime, a figure that rose to half in
Mpumalanga. Half of those over 20 years old knew someone who
had been in jail. Alcohol was considered easy to access (by
73 percent), followed by marijuana (36 percent),
crack/ecstasy (9.1 percent), and methamphetamine aka "tik"
Qcrack/ecstasy (9.1 percent), and methamphetamine aka "tik"
(4.7 percent). Crack and tik access was highly concentrated
in the Western Cape, where 27 and 18 percent of respondents
found them easy to get. Over half the sample felt it was
easy to obtain knives and other such weapons, while 6.3
percent felt they could easily get ahold of a gun. Drugs and
weapon access were strongly correlated: where one was easy to
get, so was the other. Half of respondents had witnessed
violent incidents in their communities over the prior year;
this rose to two thirds within Coloured communities, which
are plagued by violent gangs.



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Schools: Lessons in Violence


--------------------------





9. For many young South Africans, school is a threatening
environment not conducive to learning. Of respondents still
in school, about a third were afraid of traveling to school
(14 percent), of being at school (10.2 percent), or of

PRETORIA 00002037 003 OF 003


particular places at school such as toilets or open fields
(9.9 percent). Verbal bullying was the most common form of
abuse reported (29 percent), but one in eight had been
threatened with bodily harm in the last year. In 2006 the
South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) held public
hearings on violence in schools, responding to a wide outcry
over the issue. Physical aggression was in fact a behavior
learned from teachers: more than half of the students had
experienced hitting, caning, or spanking by teachers despite
the banning of corporal punishment by South African law. A
majority of students in the Eastern Cape (77 percent) and
rural areas (64 percent), and a nearly equal share of girls
as boys, were still being disciplined in this way.



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Breaking the Cycle


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10. Septel will move from problems to possible solutions.
After presenting statistical correlations between youth
victimization and perpetration of crime in South Africa
established by the CJCP survey, septel will consider emerging
strategies and initiatives of civil society organizations to
help communities break cycles of crime and violence.
LA LIME