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Environment and Urbanization

Environment and Urbanization

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This paper summarizes the outcome of an international conference on addressing the issue of urban youth in conflict with the law in Africa. It discusses the most effective responses to youth crime and violence which centre on prevention and inclusion (especially of youth in government) rather than exclusion, punishment and incarceration. It also highlights the key role for local governments in developing effective local responses that draw in and support all key local actors (parents, schools, police, businesses).
This paper summarizes the outcome of an international conference on addressing the issue of urban youth in conflict with the law in Africa. It discusses the most effective responses to youth crime and violence which centre on prevention and inclusion (especially of youth in government) rather than exclusion, punishment and incarceration. It also highlights the key role for local governments in developing effective local responses that draw in and support all key local actors (parents, schools, police, businesses).

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Environment and Urbanization
DOI: 10.1177/095624780201400205 2002; 14; 59
Environment and Urbanization 
Safer Cities Programme of UN-HABITAT, Margaret Shaw and Lullu Tschiwula
Developing citizenship among urban youth in conflict with the law
http://eau.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/14/2/59
 
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Environment and Urbanization
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Environment&Urbanization
 Vol 14 No 2 October 2002
59 YOUTH AND JUSTICE
Developing citizenship among urban youth in conflict with the law
 A paper commissioned by the Safer CitieProgramme of UN-HABITAT, compiled by Margaret Shaw and Lullu Tschiwula 
SUMMARY:
This paper summarizes the outcome of an international conferenceon addressing the issue of urban youth in conflict with the law in Africa. It discussesthe most effective responses to youth crime and violence which centre on preventionand inclusion (especially of youth in government) rather than exclusion, punish-ment and incarceration. It also highlights the key role for local governments in devel-oping effective local responses that draw in and support all key local actors (parents,schools, police, businesses).
I. INTRODUCTION
EVERYCOUNTRYIN the world is concerned with the safety and well- being of its children and young people. They represent our future and ourpotential, but are also extremely vulnerable. Young people are more likelyto be victimized and are more frequently involved in delinquent behav-iour and breaking the law than all other age groups in society. Not everychild becomes involved in delinquent behaviour but it is a rite of passagefor many. The majority outgrow it, but for some it is the beginning of alonger and more serious career. This article is the outcome of an interna-tional conference held in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, in June 2002 toaddress the issue of urban youth in conflict with the law in Africa.
II. BACKGROUND
SOCIALAND ECONOMIC changes in many countries over the past twodecades, as well as civil wars and health problems, have had a markedimpact on the lives of children and youth. There is growing youth unem-ployment, changes in family patterns, increasing income disparities between wealthy and poor, increasing migration and immigration, therecruitment of child soldiers, the impact of AIDS and HIV, and the virtualexclusion of sections of populations living in inner cities or poor rural areasfrom the increased prosperity experienced by others. In the past ten years, countries in the South, especially in urban areas,have experienced significant increases in population, in crime and in prisonpopulations.
(1)
There have been large increases in the numbers of street chil-dren, in the incidence of youth gangs, in alcohol and drug use, in truancyand school dropout rates, and in physical and sexual violence by and
Margaret Shaw is directorof analysis and exchange atthe International Centre forthe Prevention of Crime(ICPC) Montreal, Canada,which she joined in 1999.She is a sociologist withextensive experience as aresearcher, criminologist,academic and social policyadviser in the field ofcriminal justice and crimeprevention. Her researchhas included work on riskassessment, juvenile courtsentencing patterns,adolescent offending,restorative justice, parentalsupervision practices,policing issues and prisontreatment programmes. Shehas worked as a researchconsultant for the federalgovernment and forprovincial and municipalgovernments in Canada, inaddition to teaching. Sincejoining ICPC, she hascompleted a series ofmonographs and bulletins,including papers oninternational strategies andpractices to prevent crimeand victimization amongadolescents, promotion ofschool safety and the role oflocal government in crimeprevention. Address: ICPC, 507 Placed’Armes, Suite 2100,Montreal, Quebec, CanadaH2Y 2W8; e-mail:cipc@crime-prevention-intl.org Lullu Tschiwula is head ofdepartment (since 1997) andassociate professor in the
 
distribution. © 2002 International Institute for Environment and Development. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized
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towards children and young people. This is in contrast to trends over thesame period in many countries in the North, where levels of crime by youngpeople began to decline from the mid-1990s. There is no universal agree-ment on the causes of the escalating youth crime and violence in the South, but inequality and social exclusion have been identified as two of the mostsignificant factors. Offending and victimization among young people areoften highly predictable and closely linked, the outcome of a variety of circumstances and experiences in the lives of children and young peoplewhich can lead to serious consequences as they grow up.Three terms are commonly used to distinguish between three groups of young people:
 young offenders
are those already subject to the criminal justice system, having been found guilty and sentenced;
 youth in conflictwith the law
, a broader term, includes those known to the justice system butnot prosecuted, those reported to the police, and those charged withoffences and found guilty; and
 youth at risk 
, those children and youngpeople whose circumstances, lifestyle and/or behaviour puts them at riskof offending in the future. All three groups could include street children,those in youth gangs and those who drop out of school or become truant.The focus of the Port Elizabeth conference was on the complementary rolethat local government and community institutions and organizations canplay in assisting each of these groups of young people, but especially thoseat risk and in conflict with the law, and in preventing a deterioration of  behaviour and future offending and social problems. This article highlights some global trends and specific developments inpreventive programmes and strategies targeting young people in conflictwith the law or at risk.• Internationally, there is a developing consensus on giving greater prior-ity to
investing in and supporting
young people and their families throughpreventive approaches rather than excluding, punishing or incarcerat-ing them.Agrowing number of countries now have
national strategies
, whichinclude the development of preventive programmes for children andyoung people. These place considerable emphasis on the development of 
partnerships
at the local and community level to
plan, implement and eval-uate
programmes. There is growing evidence internationally of the
cost-effectiveness and cost-benefits
of preventive approaches for young people.• The circumstances which place young people
at risk 
either as victims or asoffenders, or which exclude them from mainstream society, are now widelyrecognized and appear to be similar across both North and South. Theseinclude the links between
poverty, physical and mental ill-health, parental andeducational problems, and offending and victimization
among young people.These are also points for intervention and protection. • More programmes now attempt to take account of
 gender and diversity
of the different needs and experiences of girls, boys, young women andyoung men, and those who belong to minority groups in their society. • Approaches which
recognize young peoples
rights to public space
and which
include young people
themselves in the planning and delivery of programmes have become much more prominent.• Prevention practices which are grounded in
restorative approaches
havemultiplied, and there is an increased understanding of their potential fordealing with youth victimization, offending and re-offending.
(2)
But other trends should also be acknowledged. The past ten years haveseen some extreme attempts to deal with increasing youth crime, somewith serious and costly side-effects. Some countries, faced with what
60
 Environment&Urbanization
 Vol 14 No 2 October 2002
 YOUTH AND JUSTICE
1. Kibuka, E (2001),
Prisonsin Africa
, paper presented atthe UN ProgrammeNetwork Institute TechnicalAssistance Workshop,Vienna, Austria May 10,2001, UNAFRI, Kampala.2. ICPC (2001),
 Investing inYouth 12–18: International Approaches to PreventingOffending and Victimization
,International Centre for thePrevention of Crime,Montreal, www.crime-prevention-intl.org 3. For example, a highproportion of juvenileoffenders in the USAreportphysical and sexual abuse
Department of SocialDevelopment Professions(consisting of social work,probation and youth work)at the University of PortElizabeth, South Africa.Prior to this, she was adirector of the NGONational Institute for CrimePrevention andReintegration of Offendersin Port Elizabeth. She is theauthor of
Crime andDelinquency
(1998) and hascontributed articles toSouth African journals inline with her researchinterest in youth in conflictwith the law. She is also amember of the OAUCommittee on the AfricanCharter on the Rights andWelfare of the Child.Address: Department ofSocial DevelopmentProfessions, University ofPort Elizabeth, PO Box1600, Port Elizabeth 6000,South Africa.This is an edited version ofthe Background Paperprepared by the authors forthe Port ElizabethConference and it draws inpart on the report byMargaret Shaw (2001),
Investing in Youth 12-18: International Approaches toPreventing Crime andVictimization
 , ICPC,Montreal/NCPC, Ottawa.
 
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