Crime prevention through sport and physical activity


Crime prevention is not the primary objective of sport and physical activity, but it might be an extremely positive byproduct. This paper examines a variety of sporting activities that appear to have had a beneficial effect in helping young people steer away from trouble. It examines wilderness programs, programs in which youth participate and learn skills, and programs in which the sense of belonging reduces vandalism and develops other pro-social behaviours.

Of particular interest are sports carnivals in Aboriginal communities. When the carnivals (organised and run by Aborigines for Aborigines) are held, they act as catalysts for social and traditional cohesion. Harmful behaviours such as petrol sniffing, heavy drinking, and violence are prohibited for the duration of the carnival, and the prohibitions hold in the short term.

At another level, elite sporting clubs can reach out into their communities. The example in this paper is the (British) Liverpool Football Club, which has had successes in quit smoking programs, coaching, truancy reduction, and even reducing the number of hoax calls to the local fire brigade.

This is the first exploratory paper for a project in conjunction with the Australian Sports Commission. The Australian Institute of Criminology would welcome comments on this paper, and would like to learn about any activities that may have an implicit or an explicit crime prevention outcome.