Game of Life - Antisocial Behaviour and Crime

Youth crime and antisocial behaviour are complex social issues but the risk factors are well established.

These include social and economic disadvantage, low educational attainment, poor social and emotional skills, living in a deprived area, poor parenting and poor parental mental health.

The cost here is clear– offending by young people is estimated to cost the economy between £8.5 and £11 billion per year.

There are four main theories for how sport and recreation can reduce crime and antisocial behaviour:

  1. A diversion from undertaking in criminal behaviour. Seven in ten teenagers believe antisocial behaviour occurs because young people are bored, and six in ten say that there isn’t enough for young people to do in their area.
  2. A ‘hook’ for other interventions, the range of sport and recreation activities out there means that something will appeal to everyone and will sufficiently engage them to continue. By including life skills workshops alongside participation in sport and recreation programmes other risk factors can be addressed.
  3. Behaviour modification such as enhancing self-regulating abilities or developing problem-solving abilities as a result of the skills needed in the activity. Adventurous activities such as climbing or gliding can also provide a positive avenue for expressing a desire to take risks (something which can drive antisocial behaviour and crime).
  4. Social inclusion. Sport and recreation can break down barriers between groups of people in a local area who might not otherwise engage, as the rules that govern sport and recreation are not based on faith or belief systems. Mentors can provide positive role models for at risk young people and reaffirm participants importance in society.

This section of the Game of Life reviews the value of sport and recreation to local society and shows that more evidence is needed show the effect of sport and recreation.

While it may cost £25,000 to run a boxing club for a year and that one young offender will cost £47,000 in the same time period, anecdotal evidence that sport can be targeted to prevent crime needs to be turned into compelling political arguments.

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