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Breaking the Cycle of Violence: Understanding the role of sport in addressing concerns about gangs and youth crime

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At Laureus we’re passionate about the power of sport to bring about social change. We’ve seen for ourselves through the projects we support around the world the way that engaging in sport helps to tackle issues as varied as HIV/AIDS, gender inequality, drugs and sectarianism. So when we see the emergence of an issue such as increasing youth violence – as we have in parts of the UK – we know instinctively that sport has a role to play. But instinct is not enough if we are going to convince policy makers and governments to start to make long-term investments into sport as a social solution.

Edwin MosesChairman Laureus World Sports Academy

The death of 50 teenagers by stabbing or shooting during 2008 pushed the issue of youth crime and concerns about gang violence to the top of the UK government agenda1. The issue hit fever pitch during the summer as new victims appeared on the front pages of the national media with an alarming regularity.

A raft of measures was announced in response. This included a Met Police initiative – Operation Blunt 2 – to increase stop and search across London, and the Home Office led Tackling Gangs Action Programme (TGAP). There were also tougher penalties for those found carrying a knife, with the Prime Minister announcing that there would be a presumption to prosecute in all cases, rather than simply issue a warning or caution.

The issue was also characterised by political controversies: Had statistics been massaged to downplay the prevalence of violent crime? Had the issue really got worse or was it just being reported more frequently? And were young people being unfairly portrayed in a negative light? Incidents of gang violence remain a cause for concern well after media priorities have moved on. They point to a wider problem of youth disengagement and social exclusion that affects many disadvantaged urban communities in the UK today.

At the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, we want to keep this issue at the forefront of political consciousness. But we don’t want to be simply another voice to add to the collective angst about the ‘problem’ of young people. We are passionate about the positive solution we believe is found in sport. We are committed to advocating continued investment in the right kinds of sports interventions. In this report, we identify some of the characteristics of successful sport interventions and ask what is needed to establish more of these around the country.



 editors comments   

Editor's comments - [  Drawing on research and project experience over the last 10 years (2009), this report articulates how Laureus believes that sports initiatives can best be designed to meet the challenge of urban youth violence.

They suggest some key features that should shape these kinds of interventions:

  • A focus on the similarities between gang and sporting experience – meeting young people’s need for belonging, status and excitement in a positive way
  • A commitment to engage whole groups rather than individuals – working with entrenched hierarchies rather than trying to displace them
  • Inclusion of peer mentors into project structures to provide realistic role models and a pathway for future project leaders
  • A rooting in the local community and in particular local sports clubs
  • Close links with educational and career opportunities for young people involved.
  •  ]  Reference this?Cryer, J. (Year). This page title in italics. Retrieved date, from <this page's full URL>

In the text: Cryer (year)


APA reference for this document


Reference :   Crabbe, T. (2009). Breaking the Cycle of Violence: Understanding the role of sport in addressing concerns about gangs and youth crime. London: Laureus


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Last Updated on Sunday, 15 April 2012 18:53  

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