A Ground Breaking Approach to Reshaping the Lives of Young Offenders

In Israel, close to 30% of all new juvenile files opened at the police are of new immigrants. This number is more than 2.5 times the representation of new immigrant youth in the general community. The ‘system׳ is complicated – it is frightening and overwhelming for everyone but it is particularly so for immigrant youth who lack the basic understanding, skills, and tools to navigate the system.

Window of Opportunity

Without an effective prevention and intervention mechanism in place at this stage, 75% of these youth risk being trapped on a path which leads them to choose between 2 routes. They will either experiment with different kinds of criminal activity or they will gain expertise in a specific crime category which will essentially represent the beginning of their careers as criminals.

Project Goals and Objectives

  • To avoid the re-occurrence of criminal activity among criminal youth ages 12 to 18
  • To help immigrant youth negotiate the judicial system by helping them gain access to information, advise them about their rights and responsibilities and guide them through the process.
  • To lead immigrant youth-at-risk through a process that will raise their self image and increase their confidence in their abilities.
  • To set attainable yet challenging goals and monitor/encourage their progress. In this way, the participants feel that they have clear direction and support from people who care about their future.

The Model

The Sikuim model combines mentorship, group work St community-service. The combination of the one-on-one weekly attention and group work is meant to be a source of ongoing support, love and warmth as well as a framework which provides them with practical tools that help them deals with their complex issues.


This program is a unique strategic partnership between philanthropies, the police, government bodies, local municipalities, and NGOs. Creating the culture of cooperation required to make Sikuim a success is not self evident and is one of our most important contributions to this project.


In 2013, an external longitudinal study was conducted on participants of the Sikuim program up to 5 years after completion. The findings were overwhelmingly positive and showed that the large majority (79%) of those who completed the Sikuim program did not become repeat offenders up to 5 years later; 100% of Sikuim alumni are currently integrated in normative societal frameworks and 56% of alumni of draft age have enlisted- that is higher than the national average. Considering the starting point of this population, that figure is particularly striking.