Youth in South Africa

O Grace Land youth face the same challenges as all youth in South Africa…as well as their own unique challenges.
The challenges faced by South African youth

70%  – unemployment rate for youth
35.4% – percentage of prison population that is  youth aged 14- 25
17.8%  – HIV infection rate for people between the ages of 15 and 49
1 in 3 – children in South Africa have been sexually abused.
39.4 % of youth have experienced the unexpected death of a loved one – due to AIDS and other illness/accidents.
400 000 families on waiting list for housing in Cape Town – many live in shacks with no water and sanitation services
South Africa’s areas with the highest crime rate are in Mitchell’s Plain and Cape Town Central

Ten added challenges faced by Youth who age out of Care
When youth move out of state care – they do so suddenly within months of turning 18.
The law states that 18 is the cut-off for care from the state, yet youth are often left unprepared for independent adult life.

1. When youth age out of care they face: 
– the loss of their social support – leaders are like parents and fellow teens are friends, brothers, sisters.
– the loss of economic support – youth go from being 100% cared for economically, to receiving zero financial support
– the loss of emotional support – comfort, advice and encouragement are a part of daily life at a ‘home’.
2. Teens in care have often not bonded to another family and the ‘home’ or institution is the only ‘family’ they have known. They often have no greater support structure to go back to, no one to link them to a place to stay or job.

3. Recovery from Trauma
Teens in care are often recovering from trauma – often the trauma that resulted in them being placed in care. Life on the streets, abuse by a family member, death of a family member, addiction and a life of poverty often precedes a child being placed in care. Witnessing an act of violence or violent crime can also

Traumatised teens or teens who have suffered child abuse are more likely to: suffer mistrust in forming relationships, become promiscuous early on,
4. International research shows that youth leaving care often show poor outcomes
Almost 33% were already parents by the time they entered adulthood
50% suffered from depression
many lived on the streets or in informal “shack” dwellings
and there was a high rate of girls turning to prostitution in order to survive financially.

In order to become independent, youth must learn:
– Money management – budgeting, financial goals and long-term thinking
– Time management and planning – Setting goals and developing logical thinking
– Use of community resources – like housing, food preparation, use of public transportation,
– And develop emotional intelligence – social skills,
– Employment skills, finding and maintaining employment, problem-solving and decision-making,
– self-care – this includes cooking, cleaning and general hygiene to build self esteem
– and building a support network  – learning to reconnect with community, family and forming new friendships.

With thanks to Carly Tanur of Mamelani (Project Lungisela), News24, Hope House and Safer Spaces