How effective is the use of sports participation in combating youth antisocial behaviour in a deprived area of South Wales?
University of Wales Institute Cardiff
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In recent years there has been an increasing concern about youth antisocial behaviour and the impact such behaviour can have on communities. Previous research has shown that using sport and physical activity can contribute to a reduction in antisocial behaviour. However, there is limited evidence to determine the extent to which sport and physical activity solely makes to this change. The purpose of this research study was to explore the experiences of young people involved in a sporting- based intervention programme in Cardiff aimed at tackling antisocial behaviour. The study aimed to uncover the extent to which engagement in sport had influenced their behaviour. Eight semi- structured interviews were conducted, all interviews were transcribed, then followed by a within case analysis of each interview and finally across case analysis of the interview data as a whole. This type of analysis was performed in order to identify key quotations and emerging themes from the data. Based upon the findings of the research it became evident that the use of sport and physical activity acted as a successful diversionary tool from anti- social behaviour. The findings revealed that the project provided the young people with an antidote to boredom and a more productive way to make use of their spare time. Beyond the use of sport participation and facilities, the project staff proved just as, or even more important to contributing to a change in the young people’s behaviour. It would be naive to claim that participation in sport alone would help improve their attitudes and behaviour. The project staff provided the young people with assistance in learning new skills and making healthier choices, not by telling them, but presenting them a close and caring relationship and acting as role models (Green, 2007). What became apparent during the interviews was that the young people had a brief understanding about antisocial behaviour but were unable to recognise the impact it was having on the wider community. Other ongoing challenges also emerged such as: the need for follow on support once the young people had completed the programme and the need for dedicated and trustworthy staff. To conclude it is suggested that sport is effective in reducing youth antisocial behaviour to some degree, yet other underlying factors also have a part to play. Sport is just part of a bigger intervention package, which cannot in itself reduce antisocial behaviour and crime but can contribute to it (Coalter, 2007).
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