Thursday, 15 December 2016

What is Early Childhood Trauma?

Bad stuff happens in life. It could be something that cannot be controlled like a natural disaster or the death of a loved one, or it could be intentional actions, like physical and emotional abuse.

Events such as a car accident or drug abuse in a parent can be extremely traumatic for a child.

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No matter how hard some children try to cope with these traumatic situations, sometimes they cant get passed them. An experience may play over and over again in their minds and leave them feeling fear and loss of control over their lives.

For some children, these feelings can affect their development physically, emotionally and socially – this is childhood trauma.

If these children who are affected by trauma are left unattended, it can have long-term negative effects on their lives. Luckily you can help, contact NICRO if you know of someone suffering from childhood trauma and get them what they need to recover.

Take a look at these common causes of childhood trauma...

-- Accidents
-- Bullying
-- Death of a loved one
-- Sexual abuse
-- Physical abuse
-- Emotional abuse
-- Neglect
-- Separation from a loved one
-- Stress
-- Poverty
-- Serious medical conditions
-- Violence
-- War/terrorism
-- Domestic violence at home
-- Parents with issues

When can you turn to get help? Click HERE!

Spotting the Signs of Depression

Feeling sad sometimes is a normal part of life, but most people get over these feelings in a few days or weeks. However if these symptoms won’t go away this is called depression.

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The feelings of depression often feel like a black hole of sadness that just cannot be escaped. People who have serious depression may have some or all of these symptoms:

Sadness. A feeling of hopelessness and emptiness that will not go away, no matter how hard you try. You may find yourself crying for no reason.

Guilt. People who suffer from serious depression often feel worthless and helpless. They might put themselves down because they see depression as a sign of weakness.

Irritability. Males who suffer from depression show their feelings through aggression, anger and reckless actions.

Mental Symptoms. Depression may make you feel like you’ve slowed down, because you have problems concentrating, remembering things and making decisions.

Physical Symptoms. If you have aches, pains, headaches and even digestive problems this could be the result of depression, especially if these health issues do not have any medical cause.

Loss of Energy. Depression often makes you feel apathetic, limp and tired all the time.

Loss of Interest. A common sign of depression is when you lose interest in activities you once enjoyed such as hobbies, socialising and even romantic partnerships.

Sleep Changes. Waking up too early, too late or not being able to sleep can all be symptoms of serious depression.

Appetite Changes. If you lose or gain more than 5% of your body weight in as little as a month, this is a warning sign of depression. Most people turn to food when they are depressed and will either eat too much or too little.

Suicidal Thoughts. Having thoughts of harming yourself is a serious symptom of depression and always needs to be taken seriously. If you’re thinking about suicide, you need to get help immediately.

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Depression shouldn’t make you feel shame or weakness, it is a serious issue that can be helped. NICRO is a non-profit organization committed to turning lives around – contact NICRO today and get help!

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

The Most Common Holiday Crimes

The holidays are supposed to be a time of joy and cheers; however there are a number of crimes that increase during the festive season. It is believed that these crimes increase because people become more relaxed during this time, and they have more money.

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Here are the four most common holiday crimes...

Shoplifting – This is a common occurrence during the holidays, and the police will tighten up security to discourage criminals from attempting to shoplift. If you are charged with shoplifting the penalties can vary depending on what you steal, but either way it is still a serious crime.

Identity Theft – Every year more and more people shop online, this is how scammers trick you into giving out your personal details or hackers infect your PC with malicious software. Be sure to do a scan before and after doing any online shopping. Also be aware of spam emails.

Burglary – While some criminals may watch you for a while to see when you are leaving to go on holiday, these days it is so much easier to just go onto social media and check someone’s status or holiday pictures. Be careful when you leave town, ask a friend to housesit and NEVER post information about your trip on social media.

DUI – Drinking and driving is a serious crime! Every year thousands are killed on the road, and even more during the festive season. The holidays mean Christmas parties, yearend functions and New Year’s parties, and this usually means the alcohol will be flowing. Be careful and don’t drink too much eggnog. You don’t want to be the one who ruins someone’s life during the holidays.

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If you are facing charges or you’re worried about a loved one and their actions – NICRO is here to help. NICRO is committed to turning lives around and giving people second chances, do not hesitate to contact NICRO today!

Take a look at NICRO’s basket of services here, or do your part and make a donation.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

The Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

Image resultAbuse is a serious issue and when it comes to the elderly, you'd be surprised how often they are the victims. Why? Because they are the least likely to fight back!

Physical abuse is the act of hurting someone physically. This could mean hitting, punching or kicking someone, or it could mean neglect and lack of care.

Sexual abuse is the act of giving someone sexual attention that they do not want. This is a problem in nursing homes as the elderly often cannot defend themselves.

Psychological abuse is the act of screaming, shouting or humiliating someone to the point where they feel shame.

Financial abuse is the act of taking advantage of someone’s financial matters, such as stealing. This could be by directly stealing from them or stealing from their bank account.

Signs of nursing home abuse may include:

-- Broken bones or fractures
-- Bruising, cuts or welts
-- Bed sores
-- Frequent infections
-- Signs of Dehydration
-- Mood swings and emotional outbursts
-- Reclusiveness or refusal to speak
-- Refusal to eat or take medications
-- Unexplained weight loss
-- Poor physical appearance or lack of cleanliness
-- Changes in mental status
-- Caregivers that do not want patient to be left alone with others

Signs like these should be investigated, even if a person has not been the victim of nursing home abuse, it is better to be safe then sorry!

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NICRO is committed to turning lives around. Visit the NICRO website and browse through the available programmes and services. Or do your part and make a donation today!

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

How Domestic Violence Affects Children

Domestic violence is a form of trauma, so when children have to live with it, it is a trauma that sticks with them for the rest of their lives.

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Did you know that NICRO is a non-profit organisation committed to turning lives around? NICRO has a range of programmes that can help children who are affected by violence and are in need of help... click here to find out more, or do your part and donate today!

The effects of domestic violence change parts of their lives, like health, development and wellbeing. But how do we know if children are affected?

- They see violence against their mother / father / carer
- They hear violence happening in another room and feel the need to run or hide
- They have to be careful around the abuser to avoid angry outbursts
- They have to comfort siblings / carers who have been the victim of domestic violence
- They are victimised for taking sides
- They are encouraged to join in and participate in verbal abuse
- They are not cared for properly as their carer is not able to or their mental health does not allow them too
- They are abused too
- They are traumatised and scared of the attacker, even more so by the fact that they have to make contact with them frequently

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Domestic violence can affect children in a number of different ways, here’s how it can affect them...

Development: Because of the constant violence, a child’s development is affected. They may start to act out and even start acting immature, this is often caused by their desire to be at a stage in their lives where they felt safe.

Behaviour: A child affected by domestic violence will act out, show aggression, and become hostile towards people. Just because children show these behaviours does not mean they have a disorder, it means they have been severely traumatised. Drug and alcohol abuse can also become a problem.

Relationships: Children may not spend a lot of time at home, and try find another secure place to be as their home feels unsafe. They will also struggle with being close to people and will push them away.

Emotions: Violence can affect children emotionally and physically. They will feel stressed out, worried, angry, sad, scared and anxious most of the time.

Health: Sickness can be attached to domestic violence. Headaches and stomach aches may become an everyday thing because of the constant yelling and feelings of stress and anxiety. Sleep disturbances, like nightmares and bedwetting can also come up.

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Understanding that domestic violence causes trauma in a young child’s life is the first step to understanding and helping the children affected.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Virtual Reality Simulation Shows the Dangers of Drunk Driving

Every year thousands of people die in drunken driving accidents, and thousands more are injured. This short VR video shows exactly what it looks like.

We all know the popular alcohol brands – Guinness, Johnnie Walker and Smirnoff – Well, the creator decided to release a VR video on Facebook 360, Youtube 360, Google Cardboard, Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR and the HTC Vive.

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So what happens in the video? There are three cars involved, one with a business woman inside, another with three friends going to a party and the last with new parents. Everything comes to a horrifying end when one driver makes a stupid decision to try pass a car in a no-passing zone.

The drunk driver is faced with an oncoming car and then swerves back into the other lane, hitting another car in the process. You will have to watch the VR video to find out what happens next...

It’s not clear if this simulation relates to everyone and actually works to scare people out of driving drunk, but studies showed that it changed majority of the viewer’s attitude after watching it.

Watch the VR video here...

Don't drink and drive this festive season - stay safe and drive responsibility!

NICRO is committed to turning lives around, contact NICRO today for a variety of programmes and services that aimed to help those in need. Try the Road Offenses Panel Programme designed specifically to improve awareness of the dangers and consequences of driving under the influence, as well as reckless and negligent driving.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Changing offender behaviour is key to reducing crime!

A recent Cape Times interview with Tracy Van der Westhuizen, an inmate serving time at Pollsmoor Prison for fraud, highlights the efforts by this female inmate to change her life around. Although she still has some time to go before potential release on parole, she is taking tangible steps towards rehabilitation. Her full rehabilitation can of course only be tested once she is free and facing the temptations that life in open society will bring. But she is well on the road to recovery and regaining her dignity.

South Africa has 242 prisons housing some 160,000 inmates, with an admission rate of approximately 25,000 and a monthly average of 23,000 releases. As Van der Westhuizen highlights, many of those admitted to prison have committed crime before, making support services during and post incarceration crucial.

Re-offending and recidivism are vexed questions – there is no direct research or analysis that gives us a plausible rate of recidivism in South Africa. Anecdotally it is said to be extremely high – with references to as high as 70%. What we do know is that many former prison inmates return to prison as a result of further convictions. NICRO’s experience with reintegration work demonstrates that often imprisonment acts as a ‘revolving door’ or as ‘universities of crime’ and that, notwithstanding the efforts of the Correctional authorities, not all inmates are rehabilitated.

It is for this reason that Tracy’s story is inspiring. Her story indicates that rehabilitation is a multi layered journey – inmates require psychological transformation – focusing on their emotional and cognitive functioning, as well as education and skills training. A different way of thinking, and an opportunity to work, is part of the ‘rehabilitation recipe’.

Tracy’s story also indicates another crucial factor in rehabilitation – and that is the support and love of family…. the confidence and love of her husband and children, and the amazing insight of her young daughter, provides her with the inspiration and incentive to do the difficult work of rehabilitation.

Prison is not an easy life – “it is not for sissies” –one has to develop strong coping skills to survive prison! Ironically these coping skills are the ones that will help you make it in open society.

National non-profit organisation, NICRO, is working successfully with incarcerated and released offenders to change behaviour and reduce the likelihood of recidivism.

NICRO has no doubt that perpetrators can change, and we are working hard to support inmates and released offenders to successfully reintegrate into society and turn away from crime.”

Chief Executive Director Soraya Solomon says “NICRO provides a range of tried and tested behavior change programmes and is facilitating successful social reintegration, which includes working with the offender’s family members. NICRO believes these services are crucial to achieving the goal of turning lives around and reducing recidivism.”

Society can assist in prisoner rehabilitation by supporting the efforts of former inmates to earn a living and become functioning members of their communities.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

How can you Prevent Sexual Assault?

Every single one of us has the ability to look out for each other. Even the small things count, like giving someone a lift home from a party or standing up to someone who is behaving in a threatening way - anyone can help prevent sexual assault, even you!

What is a bystander?

A person who is present when an event, such as a sexual assault, takes place, but isn't involved is called a bystander. 

On average there are only 42,596 rapes reported in South Africa in 2015/16, which means that for every 100,000 people in the country there were 77 rapes reported. The majority of these crimes are committed by someone the victim knows.

This is why it is so important to realise that bystanders can play a part in preventing crimes like sexual violence.

What can you do to prevent sexual assault?

Have you ever heard of the term "bystander intervention"? This is when someone who isn't directly involved in the situation intervenes and tries to help. If you have the chance to step in and give the victim the chance to escape, do it. It really doesn't take much to make a big difference in someones life.

Choosing to step in can change the way those around you think, even if you are simply trying to help a friend who has had too much alcohol or one who is offended by a sexually offensive joke. 

So, why don't people help more often?

Well, it’s not always easy to step in, even if you know it’s the right thing to do. Some common reasons bystanders remain on the sidelines include:

Image result“I don’t know what to do or what to say.”

“I don’t want to cause a scene.”

“It’s not my business.”

“I don’t want my friend to be mad at me.”

“I’m sure someone else will step in.”

It is alright for you to have these reasons for not stepping in, but it is also important to keep in mind that what you do to help can have a big impact. In most situations you could stop a serious crime, such as sexual assault.

Your actions matter 

Whether or not you were able to change the outcome of the situation, by stepping in you are helping to change the way people think about their roles in preventing sexual violence. If you suspect that someone you know has been sexually assaulted, there are steps you can take to support that person.

Help someone you care about by introducing them to NICRO. At NICRO, they offer a variety of helpful programmes, such as the Perpetrator of Interpersonal Violence Programme and intensive therapy.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Violence against Women and Children

It is essential that we join as a nation and find a way to make our homes and communities safe for everyone, most of all - woman and children!

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Physical, sexual, psychological, economical. These are all forms of violence against women. Violence against women violates human rights and essentially has serious results for women and for the community.

Studies show that violence against women and children is still a popular occurance that is often never reported or simply ignored. Victims of the violence are not properly supported by the law or public services. 

Insufficient specialised services for women and children who are victims of violence and the absence of professional services to victims is only a few of the reasons for non-reporting.

What can you do to help?

NICRO has a wide variety of services, including individual counselling, intensive therapy, adult life skills and even a Youth Empowerment Scheme (YES). NICRO is focused on helping others and turning lives around – contact NICRO today!

Thursday, 27 October 2016

The Link between Drugs and Crime

There has always been a link between crime and substance abuse. The crimes can be anything from drunk driving, assault, prostitution and robberies to domestic violence and even rape. The list can go on and on...

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However, sometimes the link between substance abuse and criminal activities can be a difficult one to understand. Is it drugs and alcohol that leads to crime or is it crime that leads to drug and alcohol abuse? Is it possible for someone who is not on drugs to decide to assault someone? Will someone who is not abusing alcohol engage in domestic violence?

Statistics show us that most people who use drugs and alcohol do not become addicts, they usually grow out of this phase and move on with their lives. But, there are cases where individuals who use too much will commit crimes, and it is true that these two factors are linked.

So, why is there such a strong connection between serious drug and alcohol use and criminal activities? It might be because the user has a decreased perception of social support and decreased social network. Other things that influence someone to turn to substance abuse and crime are poor living conditions, mental health, family and unemployment.

Alcohol and Crime

Alcohol is illegal to consume if you are the right age, but it causes so many violent crimes! A recent study showed that 1 in 5 people arrested by the police will test positive for alcohol. Alcohol is a factor in:

-- 60% of homicides
-- 75 % of stabbings
-- 70 % of beatings
-- 50 % of fights and domestic assaults

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Taking illegal drugs is a crime in almost all of the countries around the world, and it is almost always related to criminal activities.

However, a research shows that most drug users do not usually go on to commit crimes such as assault or robbery. Basically, this is saying that drug use is not necessarily linked to crime, even with people who have developed a serious addiction.

But, there is some link between those who do commit crimes and drug use. Assault, rape and violent acts are often linked to someone who is a heavy drug user, a lot of robberies are committed to support drug use!

There is a bit of fuzziness around why some substance abusers commit crimes and others don't. Factors like poverty, personality disorders and having been in prison previously are just some of the factors.

Drug Use and Prostitution
Image resultNaturally, drug use is linked to prostitution, especially street prostitutes. Estimates reveal that between 40 and 85 per cent of all prostitutes are drug users. Many prostitutes, men and women, are selling sex to support their drug habits. Prostitutes are often the victims of violent crimes, rapes, assaults and other serious crimes; but, because of their lifestyle and the work they do, they are unreported crimes. 

There’s no question that the relationship between drug use and crime is a causative one; drug abuse and criminal behaviour go hand-in-hand. 

NICRO is committed to turning lives around. If you fear that a loved one is involved in drugs or crime, do not hesitate to contact NICRO today! 

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

5 Most common drugs used by Teens

It is not uncommon for teens and young adults who use drugs or drink heavily to eventually turn into addicts!

If you or someone you know needs help in fighting drug abuse, there are a number of organisations ready to assist... Do not hesitate to contact NICRO, where a selection of help programmes are on offer, including the Adolescent Substance Abuse Prevention Treatment ADAPT.

Take a look at the 5 most commonly abused drugs by teens...

     1.       Alcohol

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Just because you allow your underage kid drink, and you see no harm in it, does not mean it is okay!

There are studies that show that children who start drinking before the age of 15 years are four times more likely to become alcoholics later in life. 

Teens that drink alcohol are more likely to experience...

-- Problems at school; bad grades
-- Fighting with friends and not joining in on activities
-- Running into trouble with the law
-- Illnesses
-- Unsafe sex, sometimes with someone they don't know
-- Disruption of physical and mental growth
-- Physical or sexual assault
-- Self-destructive or suicidal tendencies
-- Reckless, dangerous behaviour that could hurt the people around them
-- Short-term memory problems
-- Brain development issues that can affect them for the rest of their lives
-- Death by alcohol poisoning or accident
-- Traffic accidents and fatalities
-- Use of other drugs - cocaine, marijuana, ecstasy, heroin

     2.       Marijuana

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Did you know, Marijuana is the most used illegal drug on the planet?

Read these interesting facts about Marijuana and you may think twice about using it...

-- The active ingredient of cannabis is the chemical THC. The chemical THC is found in marijuana, it can stay inside your body for months or even years. It is also know to damage your immune system.
-- Heavy marijuana can cause brain abnormalities and brain damage.
-- Everyone knows that Marijuana can get you high, but it can also do the opposite and make you feel depressed, paranoid, and psychotic.
-- Even small amounts of marijuana can cause infertility in men and women.
-- Marijuana smoke is more likely to cause cancer than regular cigarette smoke.
-- Young people using marijuana are more likely to start using harder drugs. In fact, over 99% of cocaine users used marijuana first.

     3.       Tobacco

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Most teens smoke cigarettes because they think it is "cool." But, how can they be "cool" if they cause cancer, heart disease and can lead to using other drugs.

Here are some interesting facts about Tobacco...

-- Teens who start smoking at a young age are more likely to use other dangerous substances, such as cocaine and marijuana.
-- Over half of the youth who started smoking before age 15 went on to use illicit drugs in their life.
-- The earlier a person starts using tobacco, the more likely it is that they will become an addict later on in life.
-- Those who have become heavy smokers are more likely to use alcohol and then become alcoholics.

     4.       Prescription Drugs

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Young people continue to think that prescription drugs are safe to use because of the fact that you can get them at the doctor or pharmacy.

In the end, prescription drugs are just as dangerous and come in different strengths and combinations.

According to a recent study, 21% of grade 12 learners have abused...

-- Adderall
-- Ritalin
-- Cough mixture
-- Tranquilizers
-- Amphetamines
-- Painkillers

     5.       Hallucinogens

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It's not the 60s anymore so you may think kids these days aren't looking to trip out. But you would be surprised to know that drugs such as LSD, acid and ecstasy are still very popular.

A teenagers brain is still developing, this is why hallucinogens are so dangerous. They change how young people see the world, develop feelings and opinions and they kill brain cells.

In films and TV series, we see people who take LSD, feel extremely euphoric and happy, with beautiful hallucinations. BUT LSD can also create a "bad trip" which causes feelings of fear, terror and insanity!

The “love drug” (ecstasy) can cause kids to make unwise decisions about sex while under the influence of the drug. It can lead to unprotected sex, to disease (STDs), and to unplanned pregnancy with an unknown partner.

Being honest with teens about the effects and dangers of drugs can help them make the right life choices.

It may seem hard or weird to talk to them about drugs, but kids ten-years-old and younger get offered drugs, and they certainly see drug use on TV, in movies, and on the internet.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

South Africa's Top Drugs

Drugs may bring joy and euphoria for a free fours, but what happens after can be compared to a living hell. It can happen as quick as a flash, but it will ruin the rest of your life.

A recent study showed that about 15% of South Africans suffer from drug abuse. Even though people in SA are using the same drugs as people across the world, there are a few substances that are a bit more popular than others...


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This is by far the most used drug on SA’s streets. It is a shock to many that it totals over 60% of cases involving drug abuse. Marijuana is still illegal in South Africa, but some health experts have tried to legalize it for medicinal use.

Street names: Dagga, weed, pot, boom, ganja
What does it look like? Leaves that are dried and sold in bags, often called “bankies”. Some dealers sell ready-made joints of marijuana which are ready to smoke.
Effects: The effects are different to every person, but in most cases it causes the user to feel extremely relaxed, often leading to laziness and extreme hunger. Depending on the strength of the marijuana, some users also experience mild hallucinations.
Long-term results: Changes in personality, moodiness, difficulty concentrating and possible damage to the brain and lungs.


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SA is actually the largest abuser of Mandrax (known as Quaalude) in the world. According to a recent study, a mix of Madrax and marijuana is the ideal drug of choice in SA.

Street names: White pipe, buttons, MX
What does it look like? It is sold in pill or tablet form and usually has a unique emblem. It also varies in colour.
Effects: It is often mixed with marijuana to amplify the effects of smoking marijuana.
Long-term results: Poor liver function, anaemia, chronic headaches, depression and insomnia.


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This drug has been popular on the streets since the year 2000. No one really knows what it contains, but most times it includes cannabis, meth and heroin. 

Street names: Whoonga, wunga
What does it look like? It is bought in powder form, mixed with marijuana and smoked.
Effects: Short term effects of euphoria and relaxation.
Long-term results: Insomnia, scarred veins, liver and kidney disease and mental breaks.


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Codeine is an ingredient found in cough mixtures, sinus medication and painkillers. Most blame the abuse of codeine on the fact that SA still sells codeine based products without any prescription.

Street names: Syrup, purple drank, cody, sizzurp, lean
What does it look like? Cough syrup, anti-allergy, sinus tablets and certain painkillers.
Effects: Codeine usually causes euphoria.
Long-term results: blurry vision, nausea, insomnia and joint pain.


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Originally used as a painkiller, cocaine has become a highly addictive recreational substance.

Street names: Coke, crack, C, snow, blow, bump, Charlie, line, Llelo
What does it look like?  Powder form and crystal form. The powder is snorted and the crystal is smoked.
Effects: The effects happen instantly, but only last a short period of time. They range from euphoria, high energy, alertness and self-confidence. However negative effects include aggression, headaches and insomnia.
Long-term results: Loss of sense of smell, nosebleeds, difficulty swallowing, deviated septum, dramatic weight loss and loss of appetite.


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Also known as “uppers” amphetamines speed up the messages travelling between the brain and the body. A dangerous, addictive form of amphetamines is Crystal Meth.

Street names: Ice, tik, speed, crystal
What does it look like? The appearance is difference depending on the quality of the drug. It will often look milky or yellow if it is low quality. Sometimes they are also sold as tablets.
Effects: Happiness, confidence, non-stop talking and increased heart rate.
Long-term results: Psychosis including paranoia, hallucinations, memory loss, mood disorders, aggression and impaired motor skills.


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Although people rarely overdose on ecstasy or the pure form of it (MDMA), there has been incidents of contaminated pills making there way onto the market. These tablets can contain dangerous substances like rat poison or even cyanide!

Street names: Molly, love drug, Adam, Eve, beans, XTC
What does it look like? It is usually sold in tablet form with a unique picture engraved on each tablet. They also come in multiple colours.
Effects: Increased heart rate, jaw clenching, dry mouth, loss of appetite, high energy. Because Ecstasy makes your energy levels sky rocket, users often suffer from overheating and exhaustion.
Long-term effects: Brain damage, learning and emotion, depression, anxiety, kidney failure, convulsions and psychosis.


In the 1980s, heroin was an unknown drug in South Africa. However, it quickly gained popularity in SA's schools and rapidly infiltrated the system.

Street names: Smack, H, junk, hairy, harry, white
What does it look like? Powder form or as a liquid.
Effects: The effects of the drug are often unpredictable, which is why it often leads to overdoses. The user will experience intense relaxation and a trance-like state.
Long-term results: The drug relaxes the muscles, so in many cases it leads to the users heart stopping.

If you or someone you know needs help in fighting drug abuse, there are a number of organisations ready to assist... Do not hesitate to contact NICRO, where a number of programmes are on offer, including the Adolescent Substance Abuse Prevention Treatment ADAPT.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Domestic Violence and Abuse in South Africa

Did you know that South Africa is the country with one of the highest occurrences of domestic violence in the world!

The sad part is that domestic violence and abuse is also the most regular human rights abuse in our country. In their own house, which are supposed to be safe places, women are beaten, killed, humiliated, threatened and sexually assaulted.

Recent SA studies show that one in every six women is assaulted by their partner - and it is a regular thing!

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Even though know we do not know the exact numbers involved, evidence clearly shows that women are victims of domestic violence notably more than men. Additionally, women are often abused severely and are more likely to be abused by their own partners.

Studies show that women who abuse males are likely to avoid being arrested, because law enforcement may view female perpetrators as victims rather than the abusers. Other studies show that communities have come to accept and view violence against men by women as okay.

Domestic abuse can also happen in a same-sex relationship. Although, domestic abuse and violence in gay and lesbian relationships earns little interest.

What is the definition of domestic violence? When one person in a relationship does harm to the other to show power and dominance, and in a large majority of cases, to keep control over them. Whether or not they are married or living together, this is domestic violence! 

Domestic Violence Act 116 of 1998

Domestic violence is regulated by the Domestic Violence Act 116 of 1998. The Act was introduced in 1998 with the purpose of affording women protection from domestic violence by creating obligations on law enforcement bodies, such as the South African Police Service (SAPS), to protect victims as far as possible. The Act attempts to provide victims of domestic violence with an accessible legal instrument with which to prevent further abuses taking place within their domestic relationships. The Act recognises that domestic violence is a serious crime against our society, and extends the definition of domestic violence to include not only married women and their children, but also unmarried women who are involved in relationships or living with their partners, people in same-sex relationships, mothers and their sons, and other people who share a living space.

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Do you know your rights as a woman? If not - click here!

NICRO is all about turning lives around and creating a better South Africa, for men, women and children! Contact NICRO today if you or a loved one needs help. Looking to join the NICRO team? Take a look at the vacancies and apply today!

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

The Hard Life of Women in Prison

One of the most vulnerable and over-looked groups of women is female prisoners. Many prisons, such as Sun City in Johannesburg do not even care to provide the specific requirements for the females spending their lives in jail.

In comparison to the overall population of people in South African prisons, the amount of women in jail is very small. 

Even though there are only a small amount of women in prison, they have special needs in the healthcare department, like pregnancy, childcare and child birth. Unfortunately, SA deals with the rights of prisoners as a whole, so there are no rules and regulations made specifically for female inmates.

In 2010, South Africa signed the “UN Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-custodial Measures for Women Offenders (the Bangkok Rules)” which are international guidelines for the treatment of women in prisons. One of the provisions stipulates: “Preventive health-care measures of particular relevance to women, such as Pap smears and screening for breast and gynaecological cancers, will be offered to women prisoners on an equal basis with women of the same age in the community”.

Several women in the Sun City prison in Johannesburg, do not feel like they are getting any benefits from these international guidelines. 

Alice Peterson*, 42, is serving a 12-year sentence for defrauding her former boss out of R1.4 million. Shockingly, she shares one shower and one toilet with the other 38 women who share a cell with her! The worst part is that she is diabetic, but she cannot test her sugar level because she has been told the testing machine at the prison does not work. 

Prisons are designed with only the needs of males in mind, when it comes to females and their needs, they are invisible! 

Often, prisoners will not be allowed to see a doctor unless they are classified as seriously ill. This is how it works in the prison...

- Once a week between 8am and 2pm, a nurse is available (if you're lucky)
- On Mondays prisoners are able to tell her their problems
- She writes down the names, prison number and medical problems in a notebook
- The nurse will then decide on the severity of the sickness
- If the prisoner is not seen as gravely ill, they are given one Panado pill
- If the prisoner really is sick, a doctors appointment is made for Thursday (if they even show up)

“I remember my first month in prison, a lady fell sick and she complained of chest pains, every time she went to see the nurse, she was given a Panado,” says Pearl Mabena*. Pearl, 31, is a former inmate at Sun City, where she spent 6 months awaiting trial before serving two years after a retail card scam went wrong.

“One evening the lady clutched at her chest and she collapsed. We banged on the door, screamed, tried everything and no one came, she fell, still holding her chest and she did not move the whole night, none of us could sleep. When the warders came the following morning to let us out of our cells, they took one look at her and said she was dead. We spent a night with a dead body, she could have been saved.”

Something that is usually kept private by women is menstruation. However, this is a different story for female prisoners who have to look for help from others for basic sanitary items. 

“My family used to visit me regularly, therefore I had enough cosmetics and this gave me the upper hand. Those who had no visits or came from poor families would wash, iron or share their food for a certain period, so they could get the basics,” says Thato Khumalo*, 24. Khumalo served a two-year term for possession of an illegal firearm and ammunition.

Pregnancy and childcare is another issue that is relevant to women. A lot of women were the caregivers of the family before getting sent to jail, some even had small children or were pregnant at the time. Babies up to the age of two years are allowed to stay with their mothers. According to research there are 3 749 women in correctional centres and only 84 of them have babies with them.

Former inmate, Moipone Nkwana, gave birth to her fifth child in prison. She was shackled to the bed and experienced first-hand the difficult conditions of pregnant women and mothers. She served four years for fraud.

According to a report, growing up in a prison can be traumatic, but it is often seen as the only option. Separation from a parent is also traumatic, which is why authorities try to make basic provisions.

There is often a lack in provisions for children born in prison, which puts children’s well-being at risk. Not enough is done to promote alternatives to custody for mothers with young children, for example: education and rehabilitation programmes or early conditional release.

NICRO is committed to turning lives around - get help for yourself or your loved one by contacting NICRO today!

Friday, 19 August 2016

I’m Raising my Baby in Prison

New mother Keisha is a natural as she attends to her baby son Jack. The mother-son bond is clearly secure and loving.

On the surface of it, little Jack’s surroundings are pretty idyllic. He has a comfortable cot, stimulating toys and a pram for walks.

Outside is a well-kept green lawn with colourful playground equipment. There are other mothers and babies nearby, an indoor play area and he undergoes his regular infant checks by health workers. To Jack, the world looks pretty good. And yet in truth his environment is anything but typical. For Keisha, 22, and Jack are living within the secure confines of Jacaranda Cottages mothers and babies unit at Emu Plains Correctional Centre in Sydney’s west.

While some may flinch at the idea of a baby living in prison, the alternative – a newborn being separated from their mother, even if circumstances are safe for them to be together – is arguably worse.

Being imprisoned as a new mother still has its challenges, such as having no freedom or autonomy and being constantly monitored by government departments, but it’s also an opportunity for inmates to take part in parenting programs and build an important bond with their baby.

At Jacaranda Cottages, babies and young children up to school age can live with their mum while she serves her sentence.

Here Keisha, who began taking drugs after falling in with the wrong crowd as a teenager, tells  what her life is like in jail and how the experience is shaping her future.

“My life is good at Jacaranda Cottages because I have been able to bond with my newborn son,” she says. “I was lucky to get onto the program as obviously there are some inmates who don’t meet the criteria. My daily routine is just like any other mother apart from having a head check (a headcount to ensure all inmates are present) at 6.30am. I then prepare my son’s day and the Mothers and Children’s program runs groups that we must attend, including parenting courses, art therapy and playgroup," she says.

“I get constant support from staff and other inmates too. When I was pregnant I had pre-natal checks and after Jack was born at the local public hospital under the guard of a prison officer, my family came down and stayed in a hotel in the area. This enabled them to meet my child and also gave me comfort of having them around at this special time.

If I hadn’t been able to keep Jack with me the alternative would have been for my baby to be cared for by my sister who is completing a nursing degree. She would have had to put her studies on hold until I was released.

I’ve been able to address my drug abuse issues while I serve my sentence and I feel confident when I am released that I will be a good mother and citizen.

Now I’m looking forward to getting back into the community. I’m going to create a positive future for myself and my son. I’m planning to do a TAFE course in business and I hope to bring my child up to be a fine young man.”

It wasn't until after Keisha was convicted of drug charges she learned she was pregnant. Inside Australian prisons life isn’t so bad for mother and child, but this isn’t always the case in different countries.

If you or a loved one is pregnant and has been charged with a criminal offense, arrested, etc. Contact NICRO right away to get help!

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Why the rich shoplift more than the poor

Even though shoplifting is a serious crime and causes businesses to lose billions every year, it is still a crime that is often never reported.

Rachel Shteir, author of the new book The Steal, explains that people often feel less guilty for shoplifting when they see how much celebrities and rich people have.

It is almost like people think it is okay to steal because it seems so unimportant compared to what other people have.

Shteir's book takes a look at the history of shoplifting, from the first major incident in the 1800s to celebrities who steal.

Here's an interesting interview with Shteir...

Why is shoplifting so underreported and understudied compared to other crimes?

Because often the items people shoplift are tiny items, like lipstick or face cream. Most shoplifting is amateur shoplifting, meaning it’s not professional gang shoplifting, which is very hard to prosecute at the federal level. Most of it is done by ordinary people. Stores cannot possibly go after everyone who steals a tube of lipstick — it’s not practical from the stores’ point of view. So it’s a combination of the tininess of the objects and the fact that middle class people do it. People with a lot of money do it. And in the past, it’s been looked at as a women’s’ crime, and we trivialize anything that has to do with women, sadly.

In the book, you cite a study that finds Americans with incomes of $70,000 a year shoplift 30% more than those earning up to $20,000. Why is that?

Entitlement is certainly a factor. Rage is a factor. A lot of people feel that they are the victims in whatever way — whether it’s their life circumstances, or that they’re the victims of a larger economic plot. This creates an idea of avenging yourself on an impersonal entity, like a store. You see what others have and you think, ‘What difference does this make?’

Is there a class divide in prosecuting shoplifting?

It’s really rare for a celebrity shoplifter or a wealthy shoplifter to do any significant time. They really have to be chronic shoplifters. Otherwise, we forgive them. There’s a big discrepancy because we are very unsettled by the fact that people who don’t need to shoplift, do.

How do chronic, professional shoplifters affect the plight of amateur shoplifters?

The retail industry has tried to really separate the way it prosecutes professional gangs from amateur people shoplifting. Sometimes the categories of shoplifting get confusing, and that’s how ordinary people get hurt.

There’s a chapter in the book called “Robin Hoods 2.0.” Is there such a thing as ethical shoplifting?

There’s a pervasive idea that individuals are getting the raw deal, that stores are the true criminals. They’re multinationals, they can afford for people to shoplift, they’re insured — there are many things that people say. In that chapter, I’m just laying out what they say. It’s a very powerful theme in American life — the idea of the individual criminal, the outlaw, the pioneer, the person who’s living by their wits. I think that’s what this taps into.

In general, women mostly steal cosmetics and men steal electronics. What do those items say about the reasons we shoplift?

To me, it’s about people shoplifting to transform themselves, to try and make themselves into some idealized version. We’re trying to fashion ourselves into these stereotypes. So women are shoplifting cosmetics to make themselves beautiful and men are shoplifting tough He-Man type things.

You discuss several remedies for the crime: shame, rehab and psychoanalysis among them. Can shoplifting ever be stopped? And if so, what’s the best method?

As long as there are stores, there will be shoplifting. A lot of the anti-shoplifting devices that stores use have been proven to not work, or shoplifters find a way to get around them. Shame works for teenagers, but with Twitter and everything I don’t know whether shame will continue to have any effect on people. The one thing that works for stores is paying the people who work in them more. 

When people who work in retail are more invested, they tend to be more alert and concerned with the integrity of the business. They’re more active in trying to stop people from stealing.

NICRO is committed to turning lives around in South Africa. Don't let shoplifting take over yours or a loved ones life, contact NICRO today.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Are women more likely to get away with crime than men?

According to studies, men are more likely to commit a crime than women. However when we look at the sentencing times for men and women, some say that women get off easier with shorter sentences.

There is definitely gender prejudice in sentencing and most people are upset why this. Why do women get special treatment compared to men?

If you look at the issue through statistics, you will see how women are treated favourably, while men aren't given any leniency:

-- 63.3% of men who were sentenced in higher courts received a penalty of imprisonment, compared to just 46.7% of women.

-- Women get an average term of imprisonment of 42.4 months, compared to 60.3 months for men.

-- Male drunk drivers receive fines which are 9.7% higher than those received by women for the same offence.

-- Men are 1.73 times more likely to be sent to prison compared to women.

-- Men's prison sentences are, on average, 1.16 months longer than those received by women.

If we look at some factors that impact someone's prison sentence, such as criminal history, their decision to plead guilty and the charges faced, we also see that again male and females are treated very differently:

A male’s criminal history was given more weight compared to that of females – and generally meant that they received a harsher sentence.

When we look at this information, it leads us to see that it is in fact true that the law does show signs of gender prejudice. 

But what motivates women to commit crimes in the first place? Their reasons are far different to a man's reason for committing a crime. 

For instance, a study  found that women are more likely to be incarcerated for property, fraud and drug-related crimes, while men are more likely to be sent to prison for violent crimes such as assault and murder.

The study also found that women who commit crime are more likely to have experienced drug problems, physical and emotional abuse, and economic hardship when compared to their male counterparts. Researchers also identified five risk factors that increased the likelihood of a woman engaging in criminal activity: parental or familial issues, childhood abuse and neglect, mental illness, a lack of social support and association with other drug users.

In particular, a study found that the severity of a woman’s drug use “is more closely related to their criminality than it is for men, particularly for prostitution and property crime activities.”
Without accounting for these important considerations, it is impossible to accurately compare the treatment of men and women in the judicial system.

As stated, women often experience very different issues to men, and any “decrease” in the sentence may simply reflect these experiences. Indeed, if these matters were taken into account and similar cases were compared against one another, there might be very little difference in sentences.

In a society striving for, and largely achieving, sexual equality, no legitimate distinction can or should be drawn between offenders solely on the basis of gender.

NICRO is committed to turning lives around! Contact NICRO today, either to donate or to get help for yourself or a loved one! 

Monday, 8 August 2016

Crimes Women Are More Likely Than Men To Commit

When it comes to certain crimes, some are more common among women than men.

Women  are more like to go to prison because of fraud or robbery, while men are more likely to have committed violent crimes.

Female vs. Male Prisoners

Inmates by type of offense & gender:

Women – 12%
Men – 14%
Women – 2%
Men – 4%
Rape / sexual assault
Women – 2%
Men – 13%
Women – 9%
Men – 15%
Aggravated or simple assault
Women – 9%
Men – 11%
Women – 8%
Men – 10%
Women – 9%
Men – 3%
Motor vehicle theft
Women – 1%
Men – 2%
Women – 9%
Men – 2%
Drug possession
Women – 8%
Men – 4%
Women – 1%
Men – 2%

Women Behind Bars

Female prisoners broken down by type of offense:

Murder – 11.1%
Aggravated or simple assault – 8.9%
Robbery – 8.7%
Other violent – 3.7%
Manslaughter – 2.5%
Rape / sexual assault – 2.3%
Larceny-theft – 9.1%
Fraud – 8.4%
Burglary – 6.9%
Other property – 3%
Motor vehicle theft – 0.8%
Other drug – 17.9%
Drug possession – 6.7%
Public order – 8.9%
Other – 1.2%

NICRO is committed to turning lives around and creating a better South Africa - contact NICRO today, or take a look at for a selection of services.