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Sport to tackle youth crime

By Tom Walker    07 Aug 2009

Sport can provide an effective response to the growing problems of gun and knife crime amongst young people, according to a report by social research company Substance.

The research, called Laureus - Breaking the Cycle of Violence, was commissioned by the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation and calls on politicians, professional sports clubs and community sports facilities to invest in sport as an effective mechanism for tackling youth crime and gang violence.

Substance reviewed existing research and surveyed disadvantaged young people in Manchester, Liverpool, Coventry, Glasgow and London. The final report outlines the ways in which sports initiatives could best meet the challenge of urban youth violence.

In its conclusion, the report outlines five points. It highlights that there should be more focus on the similarities between sporting experiences and the reasons behind gang-related crime, such as meeting young people's need for belonging, status and excitement; a commitment to engage whole groups rather than individuals; and inclusion of peer mentors into project structures to provide realistic role models.

The report also calls for clubs to establish themselves in the local community and to form close links with educational and career opportunities to benefit the young people who are involved in organised sports.

Professor Tim Crabbe, director of Substance, said: "Young people don't join gangs in order to get involved in violence. They join gangs to belong to something, for excitement and for protection, which are the same reasons why they would be attracted to becoming involved in sport and sports clubs.

"This is why sport represents an interesting vehicle for challenging the culture of gun and knife crime".

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