Youth and Gang Violence in African Townships: Exploring the Link to Exclusion from Recreational Facilities
Keywords:African township youths, South Africa, gangs, social exclusion, recreational facilities
Research shows that recreational facilities play a pivotal role in youth development, including reducing levels of delinquency and taking the youth off the streets where they are vulnerable to many social ills. However, in South Africa, it appears that many poor African townships have been excluded from accessing this fundamental human right. This article discusses the experiences of youths from Nyanga in the Western Cape and Bophelong in Gauteng, who perceive to have been excluded from accessing well-resourced recreational facilities. Principally, the article explores the way in which this exclusion has influenced youth gang violence. The article adopts an exploratory, qualitative approach to obtain an in-depth understanding of the participants’ perceptions of the topic. Face-to-face interviews and focus group discussions were conducted and the data were analysed using the data analysis approach developed by Tesch. The findings show that relevant youth development practitioners have excluded African youths from fully and actively participating in recreational activities. As a result, many of the youths are idle and this has increased their vulnerability to gangs and problem behaviour. The findings also show that there is a link between youth, troubled behaviour, and exclusion from recreational facilities. A conclusion is that well-resourced recreational facilities can help reduce youth gang involvement in marginalised communities. It is recommended that relevant youth development practitioners provide infrastructure and recreational services to offer marginalised youths alternatives to engaging in gangs and violence.
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