Irish Penal Reform Trust

(UK) Teenage Kicks: The Value of Sport in Tackling Youth Crime

21st March 2011

A new report from New Philanthropy Capital demonstrates that sport can be a powerful tool for tackling crime and anti-social behaviour among young people. Teenage Kicks: The Value of Sport in Tackling Youth Crime measured the results of three sports-based projects which use sport to engage young people in a wider programme of education and support, and found them to be highly cost-effective and successful in reducing youth crime.

Calling on more funding to made available to such projects, Laureus World Sports Academy Member Daley Thompson, who cycled from Manchester to London last year to raise awareness for the issue, said: “Sport is not just a nice-to-have. It’s a powerful and effective tool for tackling a number of social challenges."

In the introduction, he states:

"Our challenge is for governments to recognise that the outcomes of sport initiatives go beyond the more obvious physical and mental benefits. We are calling for the Home Office and other government departments, who deal with youth crime each and every day of the year, to recognise that sport can provide an effective social framework for tackling the issue. In particular, we would like to see much more evidence of sport being integrated into policy objectives as part of the solution to urban youth gang violence and crime."

The Boxing Academy in Tottenham, a sports-based alternative to ‘Pupil Referral Units’ (centres for children who are not able to attend a mainstream or special school), is given as an example. The Academy aims to instil discipline and respect through the experience of structured physical activity, shared goals and positive peer groups, and works in partnership with other youth support and social welfare organisations. The report found that young people attending this project are more likely to achieve qualifications than their peers in Pupil Referral Units, and less likely to reoffend. Moreover, the Boxing Academy costs half as much to run as a traditional Pupil Referral Unit, despite achieving better results.

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