Facilitation of Residential Diversion Programmes for Youth Sex Offenders in South Africa
This article explores practical issues social workers need to consider in the facilitation of residential diversion programmes for youth sex offenders in South Africa. It draws on a broader study which explored the use of residential diversion programmes in the management of youth sex offenders in South Africa. The research design combined qualitative and quantitative approaches to data collection, analysis and presentation of data. A purposive sampling method was adopted, and in-depth individual face-to-face interviews were conducted with ex-youth sex offenders, their significant others, and professionals involved in the management of youth sex offenders and/or their victims in a variety of settings. The study found that some respondents preferred individual counselling, some preferred group counselling, while others preferred a combination of both. It can be inferred that both methods are important and that each can play an important role in the rehabilitation of youth offenders. The youth respondents also felt that a good sense of humour and incorporation of physical activities in group sessions would be the most effective facilitation style. Most respondents preferred that the residential diversion programmes for youth sex offenders be facilitated by social workers rather than volunteers or paraprofessionals. The professionals who participated in the study unanimously agreed that a generic social work degree does not fully prepare social workers for working with sex offenders. Based on the key findings of the study, several recommendations are proposed for the effective facilitation of residential diversion programmes for youth sex offenders.