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South African study on youth living in violent environment
Detail: A study by South Africa's Center for Justice and Crime Prevention, released on Wednesday, May 11, 2006, found that one in seven young people in South Africa have been victims of an assault, and one in 10 have been robbed. Of the 4,409 young people, aged between 12 and 22, surveyed, 41.5 percent were victims of crime between September 2004 and September 2005. One in 10 youth reported having a family member who committed crime, and more than two out of five reported having a family member who was currently, or had been, in jail.

Commenting on the violent living environment of young people, the center’s research director Patrick Burton was quoted as saying by the SAPA news agency, “Victimization of children and youth has also been shown to increase the risk of the young victims themselves being drawn into violent, deviant or criminal behavior." Burton further said that the levels of violence and crime that the youth were exposed to at school, at home and in their broader communities, further compounded victimization of youth. The study found that more than one in five of the young people surveyed, or 21.5 percent, lived in homes where domestic violence between caregivers or parents was common. Almost one in two young people, or 49.2 percent, personally knew someone in their community who engaged in criminal activities. More than one in four, 28.8 percent, knew people who made their living from crime.

Burton commented that not only do frequent experiences of crime at a young age increase the risk of later victimization, but they may initiate a host of related effects including the inability to form healthy inter-personal relationships, under-performance at school, depression, anxiety and social withdrawal. As there had been no previous surveys of a similar kind, Burton said, "It is difficult to say whether the country is getting more or less dangerous for its youth. ... What we can say is that there are very few safe places left for young people."
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Date: June 16 2006