Psychosocial factors contributing to juvenile delinquency in the ZFM-Region, Northern Cape, South Africa
The phenomenon juvenile delinquency is an enormous concern for communities in the ZFM district, Northern Cape, South Africa. Juvenile offences have increased since 2010 in this area. From existing theories, it is clear that the causes of this phenomenon are complex and interrelated. Some of these contributing factors are rooted in the character of the delinquent and his or her family. Other factors are peer, community or economic related. Against this background, it is clear that each community/area should be individually assessed concerning its contributing factors as these factors can differ from community to community, individual to individual and family to family. Thus, the research question: What are the psychosocial contributing factors of juvenile delinquency in the ZFM district, Northern Cape, South Africa? The research goal of this study was to determine the psychosocial factors contributing to juvenile delinquency in the ZFM region in the Northern Cape, South Africa. The objectives to arrive to the aim were to explore and describe the psychosocial factors contributing to juvenile delinquency in the ZFM region in the Northern Cape, South Africa and to make recommendations for interventions through probation services by probation officers and the Department of Social Development in the Northern Cape, South Africa. A qualitative approach was used, with an exploratory, descriptive design. Non- probability; purposive sampling was used to select probation officers from the Department of Social Development in the ZFM district in the Northern Cape. These Probation officers have each identified a parent of a juvenile in their caseloads. Because both parents of delinquents and probation officer’s perceptions are shaped by their own context, social constructivism was used as theoretical framework. Data was collected by semi-structured interviews with a checklist. The spiral for data analysis was used to analyse data, which was then clustered in themes, sub- themes and categories. Probation officers, participants identified a range of familial and community contributing factors to juvenile delinquency, and emphasises the interplay between these factors. Their also stressed the issue of parental control and guidance. Participants further indicated that harsh and ineffective parental discipline, lack of parental involvement, family conflict, child abuse and/or neglect and rejection by parents have also been identified as important factors related to delinquent behaviour. Another finding was that single parents, especially single mothers and the lack of a father figure are a great risk factor for juvenile delinquency. Parents also stressed the issue of their lack of control due to peer dependence and the juvenile’s involvement in alcohol and drugs. Probation officers also stressed the lack of parental involvement, continuous communication & parental guidance as some of the important contributing factors of delinquent behaviour amongst children. Parents also indicated a general lack of close relationship amongst family members, as well as emotional insecurity, and the inability to control their children. Both parents and probation officers agreed that peer pressure is a mayor risk factor concerning juvenile delinquency.