With Youth work being one of the key interventions used to advance the development of young people, through this study, the researcher takes a closer look at how Youth work can be enhanced to ensure its maximised contribution to empowerment and development of young people. On that basis, the researcher investigates the perceptions, attitudes, and opinions of social service professionals towards emergence and future status of Youth work practice in South Africa. This is essential, given that policy directions ought to be guided by rational, fact-based information. The researcher used two-phased sequential mixed methods research approach, which combines qualitative and quantitative methods in sequence, to explore the research phenomenon. Qualitative data was gathered from four (4) focus groups, conducted in each of the selected South Africa’s provinces. Quantitative data was gathered from five hundred and ninety-three (593) respondents who completed a measuring instrument. Some of the key empirical findings suggested that the social development factors compared to human resources and diversion factors are key drivers behind emergence of Youth work. Therefore, there is a need to ensure that interventions primarily and consequently enhance the social functioning of young people. On the current status of Youth work, a significant majority of respondents indicated that Youth work is the responsibility of a multi-disciplinary team. The evidence also pointed to Youth workers being more skilled than Social workers and Child youth care workers in rendering services to the youth. Additionally, the findings showed that the involvement of social service professionals in Youth work was mainly in collaborating with other professionals when rendering Youth work services, and also in direct service delivery. Their involvement in policy development was to no extent. This was associated with a limited number of Youth workers in the public sector. The findings on perceptions of social service professionals regarding the future status of Youth work showed that 75% of the respondents believe that Youth work should become an area of specialisation for Social work and/or Child and youth care work; followed by 17% who are of the opinion that it should remain as an occupation; whilst only 8% said it should be an autonomous profession. Additionally, an overwhelming majority of the respondents agreed with all statements which were listed as advantages or benefits of having Youth work recognised as an area of specialisation or a profession. On the basis of these findings, the researcher recommended that young people’s problems and aspirations should be addressed within their social contexts; there is a need to ensure that interventions primarily enhance the social functioning of young people; there is a need to have Youth work as an area of specialisation for Social work and/or Child and youth care work; and there is a need to create additional capacity to provide services to the youth, especially in government as a policy making structure. It is essential to note that the support for specialisation supports South Africa’s approach to mainstreaming youth development across various sectors. It could also be seen as a clear indication of the positive role and value placed on Youth work, and the potential contribution it might have should it become an area of specialisation for Social work and/or Child and youth care work.
The purpose of this article is to focus on victim empathy advancement components in
correctional programmes offered in Youth Correctional Centres. It is postulated that youth sex
offenders display empathy deficits, but ...