Prepared with assistance from the Centre for Sport and Recreation Research, Curtin University.
Sport and physical activity can change the way young people think about themselves. Research shows that participating in sport and recreation can change a young person’s perception of themselves and ultimately build greater self-confidence and
reduce negative behaviours — which plays a part in preventing and reducing crime. It’s been found that sport can help:
There are a number of barriers that contribute to reduced sport and recreation participation by young people in some communities. This potentially leads to increased levels of delinquency and disruptive behaviour in local streets.
Research indicates that youths perceived that when home or school failed to meet certain needs, they spent more time on the streets, leading to incarceration. These young people also described their homes, schools and neighbourhoods as chaotic and
There are a number of factors that contribute to this:
The cost of living often precludes youth from participating in sport and recreation activities, which can lead to boredom and too much free time, leaving young people to find other activities including those of a negative nature.
Increased time spent with peers as opposed to with family, is a highly significant risk factor for behaviours such as: Alcohol, cigarette and illicit drug use, Delinquency and Sexual activity. Researchers found that family time can serve as a protective
factor against these problems.3
Past research5 suggests that sport programs are related to reduced delinquency in (particularly Aboriginal) youth. This specifically occurred during sport seasons and was characterised by a marked drop in delinquency in rural and remote
Youth rehabilitation programs (including sport programs) are more effective when they:
Longitudinal and cross-sectional studies show sport at school and sport as an extra-curricular activity reduces violent victimisation of youth.
Breaking cycles of juvenile incarceration will require that the public health community partner with legislators, educators, community leaders, and youths to determine how to make success, rather than incarceration, the easier path for disadvantaged
Other findings show intervention programs should challenge youth through sport in the following ways:
By being more engaged in their local community, youth are less likely to resort to criminal behaviour which in turn creates a feeling of being safe in their own streets and creates more positive emotional and behavioural wellbeing.
Positive self-esteem and positive perceptions of quality of life are significantly more likely to reduce social risk factors for juvenile delinquency and serious antisocial behaviour in youth-at-risk.11
Opportunities exist for community organisations, with government support, to establish long-term viable programs that can deliver positive social outcomes.12
Through increased engagement in their local community, youth are less likely to resort to criminal behaviour.
Participation in organised sport and recreation can protect against mental illness and promote positive mental health.
Researchers believe that participating in sport and recreation and group-based physical activities is the glue that binds people together.13
Promoting the social, physical and mental wellbeing benefits of being active in a community helps create social cohesion, especially amongst disadvantaged groups.
People who belong to a team are generally happier14 and experience fewer psychological difficulties.15
Research confirms being active in the playground, on the court and on the field helps learning in the classroom.
It points to more physically active children being smarter because exercise has positive biological, psychological and social benefits.
“People are more likely to confide, ask small favours and obtain support from their sport and recreation clubs.”16
This sort of social interaction and support are brought about by a range of sources which can include:
Find a club in your local area.
For more information or to obtain copies of other publications contact:
Advocacy Project OfficerDepartment of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries246 Vincent Street, Leederville WA 6007PO Box 8349 Perth Business Centre WA 6849Telephone 61 8 6552 7300Email the Advocacy Project Officer
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