More than 2 300 children have been in trouble with the law in the Western Cape with the youngest group 33 10-year-old boys.
This emerged from Minister Bheki Cele’s quarterly crime statistics, released on Friday.
While majority of crimes committed by laaities saw a decline, attempted sexual offences increased by 7% while contact sexual offences increased by 300%.
As many as 604 incidents of rape were reported against children, which also was lower than last year’s figure of 727.
From July to September, 152 murders were committed by children – this constituted a 29% decrease when compared to the same period last year.
Carjackings, however, recorded an increase of 11% as well as theft out of or from a motor vehicle.
In the Western Cape, 2 349 children between the ages of 10 and 17 committed crimes.
In just three months, as many as 790 17-year-old boys and 530 16-year-olds were accused of crimes.
Betzi Pierce from the SA National Institute for Crime Prevention and the Reintegration of Offenders (Nicro) said the environment children grow up in influences their behaviour.
“Children often get involved with crime based on a host of factors, their environment and the situation at home, with the family unit and its stability being the biggest contributors,” she said.
“Domestic violence, child neglect and abuse is what we observe being a present factor when we evaluate children.
“And if a child grows up in an environment where gang life is rife and that child does not have a strong foundation at home, the possibility of them getting involved in gang life is that much higher.”