Rays of Hope embarks on a weekend trip to empower young boys to become peace ambassadors within the Alex community.

South Africa’s 2022 crime statistics revealed a 58,4% change in violent assault crimes against children (0-17 years). If not dealt with early, this and other deeply rooted trauma often manifest into anger, self-esteem issues, toxic masculinity and other unhealthy behavioural challenges that are common among teenagers.

Realising this growing concern and the need to manage this crisis, Rays of Hope started a Boys Anger Management programme which ran for eight weeks and ended with a weekend camp for 60 young men in Magaliesburg.

The theme of the camp was “Be the change you want to see”, which reinforced what was discussed in the programme around counteracting violence within schools. It did this by teaching the boys constructive methods of dealing with aggression, like opening and talking about their feelings, something seldom done by boys.

 “Through the anger management programme and the camp, we wanted to empower the boys to understand that when they are angry or have a rush of emotions, it is better to discuss their feelings rather than inflict violence on those around them,” says Jacob Tema, GBV Programme Coordinator at Rays of Hope.

 Some of the activities that the boys took part in included a session on bullying, playing basketball and soccer, and team-building activities where they had to build a raft that would hold groups of boys in the water. These activities did not only help improve the boy’s decision-making capacity and teamwork, but it also gave them tools to improve their communication skills and conflict resolution.

 “These sporting activities are very beneficial for young men who struggle to verbalise their emotions because they provide an alternative way to release their aggression,” says Jacob.

One of the most beneficial activities the boys took part in was the day hike, which was led by Education Programme Manager Bafana Mohale. The day hike entailed the boys walking through very steep and dangerous hills where they had to help and lean on one another to get back to the camp safely. Throughout the hike, Bafana highlighted how you need to have support by your side in life and that it’s okay to lean on people from time to time, whether it is your parent, guardian or teacher, it is important that you have someone in your life who you can talk to when times get tough.

 “We got through to the boys on this hike. We know this because when we got back to camp several of the boys wanted to speak to the social workers about their problems and what could be done by using their words and not their fists,” says Jacob.

 The long-term goal of the anger management programme is to empower many teenage boys to become peace ambassadors within the community of Alexandra, which the team is hoping to achieve over the next few years.