Behind the Mask
Getting to Grips with Crime and Violence in SA
Emmet, T & Butchart, A
mm X mm
In print
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To come to terms with crime and violence in South Africa, we must get behind the mask not only of the criminal, but also of society itself. We have to understand the hidden social processes that give rise to crime and violence.

This book argues for a proactive approach that focuses on preventing acts of crime and violence before they occur rather than the punishment of perpetrators after the fact. It sees crime as embedded in the social structure, in the disintegration of families and communities, in the breakdown of authority and social trust, and in the inequalities of society that breed hostility and disempowerment. This theme of social disintegration is linked to recent developments in the field of social capital, and in particular to recent empirical findings that link violence with economic inequality and the breakdown of social cohesion.

The book presents a number of strategically selected case studies of crime and injury prevention projects in South Africa, including case studies of community responses to crime. From these case studies and recent local and international research findings, a range of strategic principles relating to crime and violence prevention are derived and a model is developed for the design of integrated strategies for crime and injury prevention in South Africa.

By applying the methods and insights of the public health approach, Behind the Mask argues for a radical reconceptualisation of crime and crime prevention that challenges some of our most firmly held beliefs and preconceptions.