Alcoholism and multiple drug abuse have been associated the alarming rate of crime and violence in South Africa. There has been an increase in access to drugs among adolescents. The widespread availability of drugs and drug use in most of South Africa has heightened young individuals' participation and exposure to violence.
There are many predictors of sexual assault. Socio-demographic factors, anti-social and suicidal behaviors, substance abuse and psychosocial factors are one of the many. There has yet been no clear study that regarding multiple victimization in a community sample of adolescents in South Africa.
Several important aspects should be focused when assessing the causes of violence. One of the most common predictors of adolescent violence is their engagement in delinquent and anti-social behaviors. Another aspect is the influence of peers who are delinquent and antisocial and being exposed to such a group increases the risk of an adolescent being victimized. It has been proposed that an individual's lifestyle may contribute to their susceptibility to being victimized. A violent attack will most likely to occur if a potential victim is recognized to be an attractive target of such an attack and if the prospective perpetrator is inclined to harass the adolescent and there is no one nearby to defend the adolescent from the attack. A motivated offender is present and there is an absence of effective protection of the prospective victim.
Adolescents who spend a lot of time with delinquent friends have a higher chance of being victimized than their peers without such friends since they will more often be in closer proximity to motivated perpetrators, without the effective guardianship by parents and friends. These adolescents are more likely to appeal as attractive targets of an assault. Studies have shown that parental factors such as parental attitude and monitoring, family structure and a healthy parent-child interaction are essential protective compositions in adolescent attack. Parents who are more emotionally involved and concerned with their children are inclined to keep their children as far away from "bad influences" and potential aggressor and supervise their children's actions at the same time reducing their magnetism as targets of violent attacks. Mass medium such as television and easy drug access in the community are primary environmental factors that have been found to correlate with violence attacks among adolescents. High drug availability has shown an increased risk of adolescent victimization in neighborhoods where drugs are more extensively available.
A questionnaire-based investigation by Morojele and Brook (2005) examined the association between drug use, peer, parental and environmental factors in predicting multiple violence attacks among adolescents in South Africa. Adolescents of both sexes aged between 12 and 17 years were included in the study. Variables assessed were self, peer and parental drug use; self and peer delinquent behaviors; parent-child relationship and neighborhood drug availability and violence exposure through television. The study showed a significant relationship between frequency of tobacco smoking, marijuana and alcohol consumption and multiple victimization among adolescent. A higher rate of victimization was found in individuals who frequently smoked tobacco and marijuana and consumed alcohol more often as compared to their non-alcoholic, non-smoking counterparts. Parental cigarette smoking, alcohol use and parental rules and parent-child rapport were significant predictors of multiple victimizations, with the association between parental marijuana use and assault approaching statistical significance.
The study's findings advance the current state of awareness regarding substance abuse among adolescents in South Africa. The use of drugs by individuals in an adolescents 'environment as well as the heightened availability of drugs also seem to be associated with an increased likelihood of adolescents' experiences of victimization. Outcomes of the study have implications for prevention programs addressing violence and victimization among adolescents in South Africa. Potentially effective interventions for adolescent victimization should be designed to address personal, family, peer and environmental risk factors. Health care policies and strategies should focus on minimizing substance use in general. Strategies such as reinforcing government regulations on the minimum legal age of access to alcohol, improving policies regarding unlicensed liquor distributors, increasing taxation on alcohol products and cigarettes and restriction of alcohol commercials should be considered.
There is a need to address various risk factors in violence prevention efforts. Diminution in widespread drug use and accessibility of drugs at all levels of society can potentially lead to reductions in the occurrence of violence among young people in South Africa.