An African humanistic interpretive lens was used to examine the degree to which restorative philosophies are applied to deal with at-risk youth in South Africa. This article questions if a restorative approach can be used to address the harm associated with childhood victimisation and offending and thereby contribute to breaking this victim-offender cycle of harm. Findings confirmed that following a pro- and reactive restorative approach for dealing with at-risk children shows promise to contribute to the debate about good practice on a global level. It is recommended that a holistic approach be followed where both child offenders and victims are viewed as vulnerable youth in need of care and protection. Due to the systemic causation of both delinquency and victimisation the top-down government-driven approach currently used was found not to be ideal and that social capital must be built to strengthen community ownership of conflicts that simultaneously originate in and affect communities. To stimulate restorative practice on the community level independent community-based facilitators who are familiar with a community’s cultural identity and ethical issues should be used for youth social-welfare services to act in the best interest of at-risk children.
Keywords: At-risk youth, victim-offender overlap, restorative justice, Ubuntu