UNODC/DCAS Project Mobilises Youth and Communities to Take Action against Crime and Drugs

By | 30 July 2018

In many communities across South Africa, youth are at risk of victimization and the Western Cape is no exception, with almost a quarter (22.78%) of all crime reported in South Africa occurring in the Western Cape province (National Crime Statistics, 2016-17). A third (10) of the top 30 stations with the highest recorded contact crimes in the country are in the Western Cape, with nine (9) of these ten within the City of Cape Town. Violent crime in the Western Cape continue to increase with the following increases noted from 2015-16 to 2016-17, including increases in murder (2.7%); robbery with aggravated circumstances (1.3%); sexual assault (6%); carjacking (8.3%); truck hijacking (26.1%); and robbery of cash in transit (45.8%) (Western Cape Department of Community Safety). Furthermore, the Western Cape still accounts for more than 36% of all drug-related crime in the province.

As such there is a clear need for initiatives that address crime, drugs and violence in the province. This is especially pertinent among youth who continue to be marginalised in South Africa, with many not in employment, education or training (NEET). A UNODC survey (2012) of substance abuse, risk taking behaviour and mental health of secondary school learners in the Western Cape found that 44% of grade 10 learners are sexually active, 27.6% of learners are regular smokers, 22.4% drink alcohol daily while 10% use cannabis regularly. Around 25% of school learners live in a household where the caregiver has been in jail and/or where someone uses drugs, while 15% live in households were someone is a gang member.

Thus, it is vital to engage youth with initiatives that can empower them to take control of their own lives. As such the Western Cape Government has partnered with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to provide a life skills initiative to at-risk youth in communities across the province. The Line Up Live Up programme was developed by UNODC and partners, and is being delivered in partnership with the Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport (DCAS) as part of the Mass Opportunity and Development Programme   (MOD). It is being delivered by sport coaches to secondary school learners at historically disadvantaged schools in the Western Cape

Young people can make a difference

 Young people can make a difference and take action against drugs and crime. This was the message emanating from an awareness raising event hosted by the DCAS and UNODC on 26 June 2018 at Wesbank Secondary School in Malmesbury, Western Cape, South Africa. The event marked the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking and encouraged community members to support young people to stand up against drugs and crime, and lead positive, healthy lives. The event included representatives from the DCAS, the Western Cape Department of Social Development, UNODC representatives, educators and learners from participating schools and communities.

The theme for the event was: Listen First – Listening to children and youth is the first step to help them grow healthy and safe . In reflecting the theme of putting Youth at the centre of development, the event was led by young people, including learners and coaches, who have benefited from the UNODC Line Up Live Up programme that has been delivered by DCAS in the Western Cape. 

” Sport has made a difference in my life. The coaches showed me that sport was not just about winning. Sport taught me a lot, kept me away from joining a gang or even taking drugs. I want to say thank you to my coaches. ” 
(Participating Learner)

This event provided a platform for young people to showcase their talent and their efforts in tackling crime and drugs. This was nowhere more evident than in the testimonials from young people who participated in the Line Up Live Up Programme and gathered in Malmesbury for the event. Learners reflected on the valuable role the coaches play in empowering them to lead healthy lives. The coaches are at the heart of the programme and receive training and support to ensure

” I used to take a lot of drugs. Not just a little. I mean like bags. But when I joined this project, I stopped.” (Participating Learner)

They can deliver the programme to youth.   Learners further reflected on how the programme has helped them stay away from drugs, crime and violence.

 Learners from Louwville Secondary School staged a performance highlighting the perils of drugs and crime, contributing to raising awareness of these issues among a range of community stakeholders. Learners from Liebenberg Primary School engaged the crowd with a rendition of the South African national anthem, and reiterated the importance of social inclusion in their communi

“These coaches have helped change the lives of our learners. These learners used to be in taverns, using alcohol, using drugs, abusing substances but now they have changed. We are very thankful.”(Life Orientation teacher)

However, it is clear that learners are not the only people to benefit from the programme. Educators, parents and community members reflected on the LULU programme and the role that they can play in helping young people remaining free from drugs, crime and violence. In addition, community members stressed the need for this project and its relevance to Youth. It is vital to engage parents, caregivers, community leaders, and other stakeholders in this initiative and this was echoed by those present.

Line Up Live Up has been designed by UNODC and other key stakeholders and presents an evidence-informed and sports-based life skills training curriculum to strengthen youth resilience to crime and drug abuse and promote healthy life styles. The programme helps sports coaches, teachers and others working with youth in sports settings to enhance valuable life skills, such as resisting negative social pressures, coping with anxiety and communicating effectively with peers. This mandate to address and prevent youth crime and drug use through sport-based activities forms part of the UNODC Global Programme to support the Implementation of theDoha Declaration , adopted at the last United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice.

To date, 298 youth (male and female) have benefitted from the programme at eight schools. Further training of coaches, and delivery of the programme, will take place in the second half of 2018. In order to ensure the programme is as effective as possible, UNODC and DCAS are engaging broader communities, including parents, caregivers, education officials, community leaders and other stakeholders, to mobilise and support young people in the fight against drugs and crime.

The Line Up Live Up programme was developed by UNODC and various partners. It was first tested and piloted in Brazil in 2017 and has since expanded to South Africa as well as additional countries in Latin America, Central Asia and the Middle East.  

To learn more about the UNODC initiative, as well as the DOHA declaration, please visit:http://www.unodc.org/dohadeclaration/en/topics/crime-prevention-through-sports.html

To learn more about the MOD Programme delivered by the Western Cape Government, please see:https://www.westerncape.gov.za/general-publication/mod-programme