Crime reduction and community safety

This page contains research on two broad areas:

  • Sports-based programmes for 'at-risk' populations.
  • Sports-based programmes aimed at the rehabilitation of offenders. 

Evaluation of a sports counselling project to reduce reoffending (UK, 1996)

Authors

Nichols, G and Taylor, P

Date

1996

Keywords

Recidivism and crime reduction; sport; counselling; young offenders

Country of research

England

Summary of findings

This provides an analysis of the effectiveness of the West Yorkshire Sports Counselling project in reducing the reconviction rates of Probation Service clients.

This 12 week programme of sports activities accepted voluntary referrals and operated on a one-to-one, participant centred basis for three hours per week.

Trained sports leaders counselled participants in selected activities, familiarised them with appropriate clubs and activities, helped them to obtain and use leisure concession cards, gave them experience of outdoor activities and encouraged independent participation.

The reconviction rate of participants and a control group were compared over two years. Participants who had completed eight or more weeks were significantly less likely to have been reconvicted (this did not apply to those who attended less than eight weeks).

Various aspects of the programme are identified as contributing to its success - the voluntary nature of participation, skills of sports leaders, improved self-esteem and perceptions of fitness, length of course, new peer group, access to training courses.

Methodology

Interviews and survey data, case studies, analysis of project documentation

Source of reference

Nichols, G and Taylor, P, West Yorkshire Sports Counselling: Final Evaluation Report, Sheffield: University of Sheffield Leisure Management Unit; 1996.

Sport as a deterrent to delinquent behaviour in adolescents (New Zealand, 1996)

Authors

Begg, DJ; Langley, JD; Moffitt, T and Marshall, SW

Date

1996

Keywords

Crime diversion; sport; delinquency; deterrence; aggression; adolescents

Country of research

New Zealand

Summary of findings

This longitudinal cohort study explored the extent to which involvement in sporting activity in mid-adolescence would deter delinquent behaviour in late adolescence.

About 800 young people completed an interviewer-administered leisure time physical activity/sports questionnaire at the ages of 15 and 18 years. Data were also collected on self-reported 'serious' delinquency (e.g. shoplifting, car theft, burglary), aggressive behaviour (hit parent/partner, fought in street, used a weapon in fight) and psychosocial measures at age 15.

Logistic regression models were used to examine the relationships. After controlling for delinquent behaviour and psycho-social factors at age, 15 females with moderate or high levels of sporting activity were significantly more likely to be delinquent at age 18 years than those with low levels of sporting activity. No significant association was found between sporting activity and aggressive behaviour, team sport participation and delinquency and team sport participation and aggressive behaviour.

The study does not support the deterrence hypothesis and showed that high involvement in sporting activity, but not team sport, was associated with a subsequent increase in delinquent behaviour.

Methodology

Longitudinal questionnaire data

Source of reference

British Journal of Sports Medicine, 1996, 30, 335-341.

Web reference

http://bjsm.bmjjournals.com/

The relationship between playing sport and anti-social behaviour (US, 2007)

Authors

Hartmann, D and Massoglia, M

Date

2007

Keywords

Deviant behaviour, delinquency, sport.

Country of research

United States of America

Summary of findings

Given the equivocal and often contradictory findings in relation to the relationship between sports participation and anti-social behaviour the authors propose a new conceptual model which allows for the possibility of both positive and negative effects and in addition explores the factors and conditions that shape these differential trajectories, including the level, intensity and type of athletic participation, the socio-institutional context under which sport is practiced and peer group influences and interactions.

To begin this process the authors sought to explore the extent to which sport produces pro-social and anti-social behaviour and how these effects vary by type and intensity of involvement.

This exploration was undertaken using longitudinal data from the Youth Development Study in St Paul Minnesota, which has collected data from 763 students from the ninth grade to the age of 29-30 (2002 data). The data included sports activities, social activities, family relations and delinquent involvement, self-esteem and control orientation, plus a wide variety of personal profile data.

Firstly, no statistically significant relationship between sports participation and deviance was found in any of the three measures of athletic involvement- participation, intensity or salience. With reference to different types of early adulthood deviant behaviour sports participation was associated with an increase in speeding, driving drunk and angry and violent behaviour at work and a decrease in shoplifting, work fraud and minor citations such as parking. In terms of shoplifting, via logistic regression, the authors illustrate that individuals who report that sports were extremely important to them are 60 per cent less likely to

 shoplift than those who did not consider sports at all important in high school. Conversely there is a clear and consistent relationship between involvement in high school sport and an increase in adult drunk driving, with those involved in varsity sport about 65 per cent more likely to report driving while drunk in the last year.

The authors conclude that the impact of sports participation is more powerful and long lasting than previous researchers have found. However, the effects are not of a single unidirectional nature, but have positive and negative outcomes.

The authors suggest that further research is required with larger and more representative data and more sophisticated analytical techniques.

Further there is a need to explore the mechanisms that produce such divergent effects. They speculate that part of the answer will relate to the fit between particular characteristics of sport and the experiential dimensions and societal legitimacy of various forms of social behaviour. They ask whether the diverse relationships between sports participation and deviance can be explained by a general unified theory or whether the divergent effects reflect fundamentally different underlying mechanisms that require a multi-dimensional model.

Methodology

Longitudinal data, secondary analysis.

Source of reference

The Sociological Quarterly, 48,485-505

Web reference

http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/journal.asp?ref=0038-0253

Sport, physical activity and anti-social behaviour in young people (Australia, 2003)

Authors

Morris, L; Sallybanks, J; Willis, K, and Makkai, T

Date

2003

Keywords

Anti-social behaviour; sport; prevention; deterrence; children; adolescents

Country of research

Australia

Summary of findings

This paper summarises the main findings of a report by the Australian Institute of Criminology which identified and described programmes that use sporting activities to reduce anti-social behaviour.

One hundred and seventy-five organisations responded to a postal questionnaire, and about one third of their programmes were created with the aim of decreasing anti-social behaviour.

The authors suggest that providing an activity where previously there was none is more important than the type of activity provided. Further, manitaining positive benefits is dependent on the integration of community support services into the design of the programmes. Good practice principles which outline structural considerations are included.

These include:

  • Offer novel and challenging activites
  • Ensure activities are tailored to the target group
  • Provide leadership opportunities for young people in organising and deciding activities
  • Provide a continuing contact point for youth
  • Engage with young people as individuals and not simply on the basis of their behaviour.

Methodology

Postal questionnaire data, programme evaluations

Source of reference

Morris, L; Sallybanks, J; Willis, K, and Makkai, T, Sport, physical activity and antisocial behaviour in youth, Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology; 2003, Trends and Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice, no 249.

Web reference

http://www.aic.gov.au

The impact of organised sport on adolescents' behaviour (Netherlands, 2007)

Authors

Rutten, EA; Stams, GJJM; Biesta, GJJ; Schuengel; Dirks, E and Hocksma, JB

Date

2007

Keywords

Anti-social behaviour, sport, adolescence.

Country of research

Netherlands

Summary of findings

This paper reports on a Dutch investigation of the contribution of organised youth sport to antisocial and prosocial behaviour. It is based on a sample of 153 male and 107 female soccer players (contact team sport) and competitive swimmers (non-contact individual sport) aged 12-18. The study focussed on educationally relevant factors, including socio-moral atmosphere of the sporting environment, socio-moral reasoning about sports dilemmas and the quality of coach-athlete relationships.

The study sought to explore the relationships between the individual characteristics of the athletes and the characteristics of teams or coaches and the extent to which these are associated with antisocial and pro-social behaviour. The work was informed by the hypothesis that an advantageous sociomoral atmosphere of the sporting environment –characterised by mutual respect, care, trust, responsibility and shared prosocial norms about what constitutes appropriate behaviour – and a relatively high level of sociomoral reasoning about sport dilemmas plus high quality coach-athlete relationships will be related to less antisocial behaviour and more prosocial behaviour in adolescent athletes.

Data were collected from participants on issues of social desirability and their participation in both anti-social and pro-social behaviour, their evaluation of the socio-moral environment of their sporting environment (relationship between athletes and athletes and coaches), examples of sociomoral reasoning about sport dilemmas and the quality of coach- athlete relationships. These data were analysed via multilevel regression analysis

The actors found that 8 per cent of the variance in antisocial behaviour and 7 per cent of the variance in prosocial behaviour could be attributed to the sporting environment, more specifically the team and its coach.

Athletes who experienced a favourable sociomoral atmosphere of the sporting environment and a positive relationship with their coach reported less anti-social behaviour. More prosocial behaviour was predicted by positive perceptions of the sociomoral atmosphere and mature sociomoral reasoning. The authors conclude that although small, the contextual effects provide the strongest evidence for the influence of the quality of the coach- athlete relationship and sociomoral reasoning on behaviour.

The authors explore and reject an explanation based on self-selection as the effects were not sport-specific and the effects remained after controlling for such factors as age, sex, socioeconomic status and cultural background. However, they do admit that selection effects cannot be wholly ruled out and caution against the causal interpretation of the results, in part because of the self-report nature of the data. They suggest that the effects need to be investigated further via control groups in a prospective study.

Methodology

Survey data, self reporting.

Source of reference

Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 36(3), 255-264

Web reference

http://www.springer.com/psychology/child+&+school+psychology/journal/10964

Rehabilitation of young people through sport (England, 2003)

Authors

Andrews, JP and Andrews, GJ

Date

2003

Keywords

Recidivism and crime reduction; rehabilitation; sport; young offenders

Country of research

England

Summary of findings

This research used a quasi-longitudinal participant observation study of 20 residents (aged 12-17, including 5 girls) in a secure unit involving over 60 visits during an 8 month period. Overall, it questions the suitability of sporting activities as a primary vehicle for rehabilitation. They review a range of literature relating to sport and delinquency and mental health and self-esteem as a basis for the study.

Via case study description and direct quotes from participants they illustrate the potentially threatening nature of 'traditional' sports for such frequently volatile young people. The ethos of sport and exercise provision was guided by the experience of staff and predominantly involved small group and individual lessons and, where games were played, they had minimal rules and a strong emphasis on fun as an escape from the strict regulations governing the unit.

Autonomy and ownership were encouraged by  by letting the young people construct their own gym programme, based on individual aims and goals and their appraisal of their abilities. To foster self-esteem, peer comparison of physical abilities was not encouraged, emphasis was placed on task mastery, support was not contingent on performance and feedback was fair and appropriate. Unless constructed appropriately, physical activity programmes can have negative effects on self-esteem.

Further, the authors argue that care needs to be taken in providing aggressive sports which re-affirm adolescent masculine aggression. In particular, they raise questions about the 'culture of weight training', although each case needs to be taken on its merits. The authors suggest that traditional sport may not be as effective in cultivating principled moral judgement as theories suggest.

Their general conclusion is that sporting activities should de-emphasise regulations and winning, place an emphasis on choices, with programmes tailored to suit individual needs and the regular use of positive feedback. Sport has a role in youth rehabilitation, but should be used selectively.

Methodology

Participant observation

Source of reference

Social Science and Medicine, 2003, 56, 531-550.

Web reference

http://www.elsevier.nl/locate/issn/02779536

or

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/0277936

How to measure the impact of crime reduction interventions involving sport for young people (UK, 2004)

Authors

Nichols, G and Crow, I

Date

2004

Keywords

Sport; adolescence, recidivism; crime reduction; deterrence, prevention.

Country of research

United Kingdom

Summary of findings

This article considers the complexity of measuring the impact on crime reduction of different types of sports-based interventions with young people.  The main purpose of the article is to show that different methods of evaluation are appropriate and practical depending on the nature of the programmes. 

Drawing on research experience of such schemes and various analytical frameworks, the authors develop a threefold typology of such programmes:

(i) programmes of 'primary prevention' are  those directed at the modification of criminal/community/neighbourhood conditions that are likely to give rise to offending;

(ii) 'secondary prevention' schemes focus on the early identification, of and intervention in, the lives of those 'at risk';

(iii) 'tertiary programmes' work with offenders and seek to reduce recidivism.  In addition, such programmes are variously based on certain assumptions about the impact of sport on crime: (a) sport provides (short-term) diversion from crime; (b) sport programmes in certain locations deters criminality; (iii) sport enables self-development and directs towards pro-social values. 

The authors provide detailed examples of various combinations of the typology and assumptions, based on actual programmes: primary prevention based variously on assumptions of diversion, deterrence or development; secondary prevention based on diversion and development; tertiary prevention based on development. 

They then illustrate the problems associated with defining and measuring outcomes for each of these and the methods relevant to the evaluation of the direct and indirect impacts of such programmes.  This is based largely on a realist approach to evaluation - a mixture of resource-based pragmatism and attempts to deduce relevant methods from the theoretical assumptions underpinning the programme and the presumed outcomes.

Methodology

Review article

Source of reference

Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, 2004, 43(3), 267-283

Web reference

http://www.blackwellpublishers.co.uk/journal.asp?ref=0265-5527&site=1

The impact of a midnight basketball league on participants' lives (US, 1995)

Authors

Farrell, WC; Johnson, JH; Sapp, M; Pumphrey, RM and Freeman, S

Date

1995

Keywords

Crime diversion; sport; males; black people; urban; deterrence; prevention

Country of research

United States of America

Summary of findings

Reports the results of a survey of participants (n:92) in the Milwaukee Midnight Basketball League (In the Paint at One Two), which combines basketball with 1.5 hours of mentors/speakers after each session, to discuss participants' career, educational and life aspirations.

In addition to reporting on the socio-demographic characteristics of participants, it also explores their attitudes towards the league. The majority of participants had high levels of satisfaction with the league and its stress on high moral standards and high expectations. Most felt that it helped them clarify their educational goals and 80 per cent wanted to pursue additional education.

Almost  two thirds believed that the league helped to prevent crime during game nights and 82 per cent reported that they had not been involved in criminal activity during their participation in the League (11% were involved, although programme records indicate that the offences were minor). Police reported a 30 per cent reduction in crime during the first year in the target area.

Methodology

Survey data

Source of reference

Journal of Community Practice, 1995, 2, (4), 91-107.

Web reference

http://www.unc.edu/~moweil/

A review of theories of the causes of anti-social behaviour and the impact of sport (Scotland, 1996)

Authors

Coalter, F

Date

1996

Keywords

Anti-social behaviour; sport; delinquency; prevention; deterrence

Country of research

Scotland

Summary of findings

This digest seeks to clarify the nature of anti-social behaviour and the properties of sport that are assumed to be able to address such a variety of behaviour. It explores various theories of the causes of delinquency and evidence for the potential contribution which sport can make to ameliorate these:

(i) The social psychology of adolescence, including boredom and opportunity-led crime and an avenue for achievement and identity formation.

(ii) Differential association, peer groups and values.

(ii) The development of self-discipline and control.

(iii) Compensation for educational failure, blocked aspirations and low self-esteem.

(iv) Improved fitness and psychological health.

 It reviews some existing initiatives - both preventative/diversionary and rehabilitative - and concludes with a series of recommendations for improving the effectiveness of diversionary and rehabilitative programmes:

(i) The need for all initiatives to recognise the complexity of causes of anti-social behaviour.

(ii) The need to recognise the gender-bias in theorising and policy and the lack of knowledge and understanding of female delinquency.

(iii) The need to understand the differential impacts of certain sports and processes and that some can lead to increased aggression and delinquent behaviour.

(iv) The context and process of participation are central to the nature of any impacts and sports counselling requires diagnostic and inter-personal skills not always possessed by performance-oriented sports coaches.

(v) The success of most schemes depends on voluntary participation.

(vi) Sport should not be viewed in isolation and is most effective in programmes that also address issues of educational development, training for employment and are integrated into community structures.

Methodology

Literature review

Source of reference

Coalter, F, Sport and anti-social behaviour: a policy-related review, Edinburgh: Scottish Sports Council; 1996, Research Digest no 41, ISBN 1 85060 268 9.

Web reference

Ordering information can be found at http://www.sportscotland.org.uk/contents/publications/publicationscat11_rd.htm

Evaluation of Splash – holiday programmes designed to reduce youth offending (UK, 2003)

Authors

Splash National Support Team

Date

2003

Keywords

Crime diversion; sport; recreation; prevention; delinquency; alcohol / drug abuse; anti-social behaviour; aggression; adolescents

Country of research

United Kingdom

Summary of findings

This report provides an analysis (including selected case studies and the views of participants) of 427 holiday programmes in high crime estates in England and Wales, which sought to engage 13-17 year olds to reduce offending.

The programmes included sports, music, drama and arts. Analysis of local crime figures was difficult because of changes in recording and the different sizes of areas covered. However, analysis of data illustrated statistically significant improvements in some Splash areas, although the sample sizes were small. In ten areas total crime reduced by 7.4 percent between June and August 2002 and juvenile nuisance increased by 0.1 percent  between June and August, compared to a 13.2 percent increase in 2001 (n:18).

All other crime data showed no significant change. Many schemes also include development activities such as involvement of previous participants in running programmes, support and advice on sexual health, alcohol and drug abuse, personal health and anger mangement.

The report concludes with two broad sets of recommendations for the improvement of the programmes:

Recommendations for the local context

(i) Staff framework

Daily and weekly staff meetings and the provison of clear roles and responsibilities  were regarded as an important component of successful schemes.

(ii) Residential schemes

These were almost unanimously praised as one of the most well-received and beneficial activities.

(iii) Young person consultation

Consultation with young people at the planning phases was regarded as beneficial, giving young people a sense of ownership and encouraging deeper involvement.

(iii) Police cadets

Using police cadets as workers was found to be worthwhile, for developing partnerships with the police and giving cadets community experience with at risk young people.

(iv) Female attendance

The provision of all-female activities were an important component of successful schemes.

(v) Importance of variety

In order to retain young people's interest the need to introduce variety in activities is important as schemes enter their third or fourth year.  

(vi) Coach travel

Possibly the most common complaint was young people misbehaving on coaches/mini-buses when traveling between events. The even spacing of staff throughout the bus was surprisingly effective.

(vii) Target schools

Targeting local schools and speaking at school assemblies may increase attendance.

(viii) Discipline

This is an area requiring deeper analysis. Although most schemes have similar rules and regulations, a variety of approaches were used to deal with undesirable behaviour. There seemed to be no 'best way' to tackle the issue:

(a) Bans and temporary bans did succeed in establishing order in schemes by reinforcing responsibility for the actions of individuals.

(b) Reinforced attention and support to young people seemed to change their attitudes in a more fundamental way.

Recommendations for the national context

(i) A longer notice period for funding to enable the organisation of larger, more efficient and more effective schemes.

(ii) Crime data

Many schemes had difficulty in collecting the crime data for their regions from the police. The experience of Splash Extra, where Yots were allocated funding to support data collection should be explored further.

Methodology

Programme evaluation

Source of reference

Splash National Support Team, Splash 2002 final report, London: Cap Gemini Ernst & Young UK plc, Youth Justice Board; 2003.

Web reference

http://www.youth-justice-board.gov.uk/NR/rdonlyres/E8D25776-6B07-4F43-815F-3D9A530D0722/411/Splash2002FinalReport.doc

Links between power sports and violent or anti-social behaviour (Norway, 2005)

Authors

Endresen, IM and Olweus, D

Date

2005

Keywords

Anti-social behaviour; sport; violence; boys

Country of research

Norway

Summary of findings

The authors report on a large-scale cohort longitudinal project involving nearly 500 11-13 year old males in 37 schools in Bergen. The aim was to examine the possible relationships between participation in power sports (boxing, weightlifting, wrestling and oriental martial arts) and violent and anti-social behaviour.

The research sought to examine three hypotheses:

(i) that participants in power sports would have higher levels of anti-social involvement than non-participants;

(ii) possibly higher levels of ant-social behaviour would be at least in part due to an enhancement effect;

(iii) higher levels of ant-social behaviour may reflect a combination of self-selection and enhancement.

An interviewer-administered questionnaire based on established measures of anti-social behaviour and violence was used on two occasions over a two year period.  The data strongly indicated that participants in power sports had higher levels of anti-social involvement; enhancement effects were found, with the results also indicating that quitting power sports may lead to a relative reduction in anti-social behaviour.

Further, no self-selection effects were found, with the same type of behaviour found in novices and for boys with one year prior experience. The strongest relationships were found for boxing and weightlifting, with the correlation between boxing and violence particularly marked.

The authors seek to explain the weaker correlations for martial arts by their philosophy of non-violence. 

The authors seek to explain these relationships via social learning theory - the combined effects of enactive learning, violent role models and acceptance/reinforcement of violent and aggressive behaviour from coaches and peers. They also posit a 'macho' subculture in weightlifting.

The authors admit that issues relating to confounding variables are not adequately addressed, although the results could not be explained as a consequence of alcohol or drug use, gang membership or stage of pubertal development.

The authors admit the study has issues of external validity and its results need to be generalised with caution.

Methodology

Longitudinal survey

Source of reference

Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 46(5), 468-478

Web reference

http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/journal.asp?ref=0021-9630

The impact of a sports programme on adolescents with disruptive behaviour (US, 2001)

Authors

McKenney, A and Dattilo, J

Date

2001

Keywords

Anti-social behaviour; sport; aggression; deterrence; adolescents; boys

Country of research

United States of America

Summary of findings

This study is based on five adolescent males (13-17) with disruptive behaviour disorder receiving psychiatric treatment in the southeastern United States. The study examined the impact of an intensive basketball coaching programme (which included a conflict resolution component) on the development of pro-social behaviour and the reduction of anti-social behaviour (physical and verbal aggression).

The coaching programme was organised around three units of instruction, emphasising encouragement, helping and conflict resolution. For each unit of instruction participants were provided with pro-social behaviour cards outlining the steps for demonstrating behaviours.

Data were collected via video, on-going questionnaires completed by participants and pre- and post-questionnaires to each participant's psychosocial therapist and family members.

Results indicated that an intervention within a sport context had a short-term positive effect on pro-social behaviour, but no influence on anti-social behaviour.

The impact on pro-social behaviour is explained by the provision of specific experiences for learning such skills (in addition to sports skills) via demonstration and video-viewing including helping a fallen participant or complementing others on their performance.

However, this improved behaviour was closely dependent on reinforcement and decreased over time, indicating a failure to internalise such norms.

Another explanation is that imminent separation from the main 'attachment figure' in the programme lead participants to reduce prosocial behaviours.

Further, the novelty of the intervention may have helped to gain participants' attention, but as it progressed the novelty effect declined.

The authors list a number of recommendations to increase the potential of such programmes:

(i) Teach prosocial behaviours within the context of a variety of sports and associated sports skills.

(ii) Teach prosocial behaviour with a pre-planned systematic use of a video-viewing component, illustrating the participants' behaviour, as well as peers and instructors.

(iii) Design programmes not only to increase prosocial behaviour, but also reduce anti-social behaviour (e.g. instruction on aggression control).

(iv) Recognise that competitive sport may increase as well as reduce anti-social behaviour. Participants should be introduced to cooperative activities before competitive ones. Another approach could be to have group meetings before and after sports programmes to discuss expected behaviour.

Methodology

Observation and questionnaire data

Source of reference

Therapeutic Recreation Journal, 2001, 35, (2), 123-140.

Web reference

http://www.nrpa.org/story.cfm?story_id=584&departmentID=38&publicationID=21

Evaluation of two sports programmes tackling youth disaffection and anti-social behaviour (UK, 2008)

Authors

Sandford, RA; Duncombe, R and Armour, KM

Date

2008

Keywords

Physical activity, sport, youth, anti-social behaviour.

Country of research

United Kingdom

Summary of findings

This paper provides evaluation evidence from two longitudinal research projects which have examined the impact of participation in physical activity/sport programmes on short and long-term positive youth development, with specifc emphasis on understanding processes. 

The two programmes are HSBC/Outward Bound and Youth Sport Trust/BSkyB Living for Sport which both aim to re-engage disaffected young people in the school context.

The article provides a brief overview of the various beliefs about the contribution that sport/physical activity can make to positive youth development and the current UK policy framework. 

The authors suggest that neither belief nor policy is based on robust research evidence.  The HSBC/Outward Bound project is a five year programme which funds residential outdoor/adventurous activity experiences for pupils for five schools in London Docklands.  The BSkyB Living for Sport project is a national initiative which encourages schools to run their own projects based on a variety of activities (e.g. climbing, horse-riding, skiing, tennis, football, martial arts).  Each Sky project culminates in a pupil organised event.  The programmes had involved about 7,000 pupils at the time of the research.  Teacher-completed individual pupil profiles are collected pre- and post- involvement and individual interviews and focus group discussions with teachers and pupils were undertaken.

The authors illustrate that short term positive impacts were recorded for participants in both programmes.  The Sky Living for Sport project seemed to have lead to a slight increase in mean attendance and a decrease in behavioural referrals, with teacher evaluations indicating slight improvements in behaviour.  The HSBC/OB data showed positive improvements in baseline profiles and outperforming a comparison non-participant group.  Teachers note that the majority of pupils are happier in school and appear more engaged in lessons and are less disruptive in large groups (although the authors admit that different teachers provided conflicting reports for the same pupil).

However, the data indicated that not all pupils benefitted and the impact is often highly individualised, context specific and for some short-lived.  The authors' attempts to assess longer term impacts were limited by various aspects of sample decay.  Within in this context about 90 per cent had maintained a positive change for approximately 12 months.  Within this context the authors list the various critical success factors as follows:

Effective matching of pupil needs with project objectives.
Locating project activities outside the 'normal' school context.
Working closely with pupils to empower them to choose activities, set targets and review progress.
Establishing positive relationships between project leaders and pupils.  The suitability of the adults is a key factor.
Giving pupils the opportunity to work with and for the benefit of others.
Sustained project involvement and a sense of belong.

Reflecting previous research, the authors conclude that success was not an inherent feature of the activities per se, but was a product of a range of factors.  They conclude that there is a need for professional development and training of those seeking to deliver such programmes.

Methodology

Programme evaluation

Source of reference

Educational Review, 60(4), 419-435

Web reference

http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/titles/00131911.asp

Links between sport and violent behaviour among adolescents (Germany, 2009)

Authors

Mutz, M and Baur, J

Date

2009

Keywords

Violence; aggression, prevention; sports participation; sport clubs, adolescents.

Country of research

Germany

Summary of findings

This article reports on secondary analysis of data from the German sub-sample (n: 33,000, 15 year old students) in the OECD's  Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) to explore the relationship between self-reported violent behaviour and membership of sports clubs.  The authors provide a review of the theoretical perspectives on the possible relationship between sports participation and criminal or violent behaviour:

  • Crime opportunity theories which focus on situational conditions that tempt people to commit criminal acts and the nature of the cost and benefit calculations that they make. Participation in adult-supervised leisure activities, with the organisational context being more important than the activity.

  • Psychological theories of aggression assume that aggressive behaviour results from preceding displeasing or frustrating experiences. Sports activities are a functional cathartic alternative.

  • Social bonding theory assumes that people have an innate tendency to act aggressively unless they are bound to effective moral standards and conventional social norms, such as might be provided in a sports club.

  • Social learning theory posits that new behaviours are learned via observation, imitation and reinforcement. This can be achieved via sports participation and learning to behave in accordance with the rules of the game.  The authors also outline another aspect of social learning theory - the 'carryover' thesis in which aggression learned and condoned in contact and combat sports is transferred to non-sporting contexts.

In the German sub-sample, respondents were asked questions about their violent behaviour against people and property during the previous 12 months and its regularity.  They were also asked to assess the extent their friends favoured violent and delinquent behaviour.  They were also asked if they participated in a sports club or a non-sporting organisation.  Other independent variables included sex, educational background (based on type of school), social and immigrant background, indices of economic capital and cultural capital, and experience of family violence and media violence.  Logistic regression analysis was used to explore the various relationships.

Four out of five 15 year olds reported no involvement in violent actions; boys had a higher risk of being involved and educational level was highly related to such behaviour.  Just over half the males and 39 per cent of the females were members of sports clubs, with those in high educational level schools being most likely to be members.  Overall, the analysis illustrates that sport club participation does not automatically lead to a decrease or an increase in violence.  The key influences on such behaviour are sex, immigrant background, and level of domestic cultural capital, level of educational background, family violence, media violence and peer-group climate relating to delinquency.  The authors conclude that when compared to powerful agents of socialisation (family, school, peers, and media) a sports club affiliation seems to be of marginal relevance.

The authors point to certain limitations with the study: the secondary data was not originally designed to explore such relationships and it is possible that all confounding variables are not included; it was not possible to distinguish between different types of sports.  Nevertheless they conclude that to emphasise the possible social welfare roles of sports clubs is to misunderstand their purpose, which is to provide opportunities for exercise and the enjoyment of physical activity.  If broader social issues are to be addressed this requires specially designed intervention programmes which combine sport-related aims with socially spirited objectives

Methodology

Secondary data analysis; survey.

Source of reference

International Journal of Sports Policy and Politics

Web reference

http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/titles/19406940.asp

The relationship between violence and attitudes to sport in adolescents (Switzerland, 2010)

Authors

Moesch, K; Birrer, D and Seiler, R

Date

2010

Keywords

Sport; adolescents, violence, well-being.

Country of research

Switzerland

Summary of findings

This Swiss study used a typology based on a relationship to violence to investigate groups of adolescents with different characteristics of violent behaviour and cognition regarding their sports backgrounds and psychological variables associated with violent behaviour.  The article provides a brief review of theories about the inconsistent evidence about the relationship between sport and crime and places emphasis on social-learning theory in which both positive and negative lessons can be derived from a variety of sporting contexts.

A sample of 2438 adolescents aged 12-18 years completed five self-report questionnaires on sport engagement, violent behaviour and cognition, self-concepts, well-being and stress perceptions.  After data cleaning, the data for 832 were sorted into five clusters: non-violent adolescents, adolescents at risk, violence supporters, psychological harassers and violent adolescents.  Violence was assessed on three scales: the cognition towards violence scale; psychological violence; physical violence.  Sport was assessed through physical activity performed each week and the type of sport (team/individual; body contact); setting and level of participation.  Measures of self-concept, well-being and perception of stress were also taken, plus socio-demographic data.

The analysis showed that psychological harassers were mostly males, had an immigrant background and spent most time playing sport.  There was also an over-representation of harassers in the elite sport group.  Violent adolescents played significantly more team sports with body contact, with non-violent adolescents under-represented in this group.  Non-violent adolescents were more involved in individual sports with a focus on aesthetics.  The authors use social learning theory to suggest that such differences reflect the experience of the different sports.  However, there is also a gender skew in these results, with females much more likely to be participants in aesthetic sports.  In terms of self-concept the non-violent group had positive relations with parents and a high self-concept.  The harassers scored highest on sport abilities and physical ability scales.  On the well-being scales the most positive values were found for the non-violent group and the least positive for the violent group, who also experienced more stress.

The authors state that the main question arising from their research is the extent to which the reported associations are due to selection or to developmental processes emerging from sports participation.  To answer this question a longitudinal study is required.  Finally the authors note that their sample was not random; data are based on self-report; it is a cross-sectional study.  Nevertheless they claim that the data do provide interesting insights into sports background and psychological characteristics and different characteristics regarding violence.

Methodology

Surveys

Source of reference

European Journal of Sports Science, 10(5), 319-328

Web reference

http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/titles/17461391.asp

High school athletes' views on character development through playing sport (Canada, 2010)

Authors

Camire, M and Trudel, P

Date

2010

Keywords

Sport, participation, character development.

Country of research

Canada

Summary of findings

This Canadian study explores the perspective of 20 self-selecting, French speaking high school students (10 male; 10 female: age 13-17) on the contribution which participation in sport has had to their own character development.

The authors provide a broad overview of research and literature relating to character development in sport arguing that it provides an inconsistent picture, illustrating both positive and negative outcomes.  In fact they list a range of studies which illustrates that sport permits athletes to relinquish moral responsibility (game reasoning theory) and via 'gamesmanship' push ethical and rule governed behaviour to its limits.  However, they also suggest that character is complex, socially constructed and may be defined and interpreted in a variety of ways, which makes comparison of research findings difficult.  Further, they argue that because of an absence of qualitative research little is known about how athletes view and experience the development of character through sport.

Participants took part in basketball, volleyball, soccer and badminton and participated in in-depth interviews.  The interview schedule explored demographic information, their experiences in high school sports, their perspective on the coaching they received and various aspects of character development and the extent to which they believed that intellectually, physical, moral, religious and emotional development was achieved via sport.  They were presented with two sheets - one with the social values of teamwork, perseverance and loyalty and one with the moral values of honesty, sportspersonship and respect.  They were asked which they believed were developed via sport and asked to comment on the prevalence of gamesmanship (e.g. aggression, cheating) in high school sport.

The majority did not have a clear understanding of the general concept of moral development and had difficulty explaining the link with sport.  The authors conclude that there is a need to allocate time during team meetings for the more detailed discussions and affirmation of moral issues.  Except for badminton players, teamwork was viewed as one of the most important values developed as well as perseverance and loyalty.  The majority used a combination of both social and moral values to describe the effects of sports participation.  However, individual athletes were more likely to emphasise moral values with team athletes emphasising social values.  With regard to moral values, few reported learning about them via sport as they had been exposed to them in other life domains, although sport is an area where they can apply such values.  In terms of gamesmanship, the majority who reported, legitimised and employed aggressive behaviour were older and played basketball and soccer.

The authors point to the small sample and the lack of generalisability of the study.  However, they suggest that they have highlighted some of the challenges that face high school sport.  They suggest that coaches and administrators need to undertake concrete and proactive initiatives to reduce gamesmanship and re-emphasise the moral character of sport.  They need to work with specific values and define the meaning of these values because young athletes have limited understanding of the broad concepts.  This is because the study indicates that the majority of athletes tend to believe that the type of character which best describes the development in sport is social.

Methodology

Interviews

Source of reference

Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, 15(2), 193-207

Web reference

http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/titles/17408989.asp

Crime and sport: evidence from Italian regions (Italy, 2011)

Authors

Caruso, R.

Date

2011

Keywords

Sport participation; crime reduction; cognitive development.

Country of research

Italy

Summary of findings

This paper is in two parts. The first part proposes what the author regards as a novel economic definition of sport of sport participation.  Following an extended exposition of the work of a number of theorists who regard sport as a form of consumption and production, the author defines sport as: 'a joint indivisible good, which is produced and consumed by different agents at a certain place and time.  It can have multiple shapes.  In fact, it is a combination of (i) a market good, (ii) a relational good and (iii) an expression of threat, power and coercion.  All components differ in intensity, but differently from (i) and (iii) the relational component must necessarily be positive'.  This is used to produce an hypothesis: sport may be beneficial for society as long as the relational component dominates both the coercive and exchange components.  The author relates this possible function of sport participation to literature in happiness studies and life satisfaction and quotes research which indicates a positive relationship between sport participation and self-reported happiness and well-being, especially among females.  The author also uses data from the USA which indicate that athletes tend to have higher employed-based monetary and non-monetary benefits.

The second part of the paper uses panel data from Italian regions to analyse the impact of sport participation on the rate of (i) property crimes; (ii) violent crime and (iii) juvenile crime. The author uses published data from the Italian National Statistical Office (1997-2003) and also included data on unemployment (as a proxy for general economic conditions), education and current public spending on security (proxy for deterrence).  The results of the analysis were as follows:

(i) There was a robust negative association between sport participation and property crime.  An increase of 1% in sport participation reduced property crime by 0.3% approximately.

(ii) There is a robust negative association between sport participation and juvenile crime.  A 1% increase in sport participation reduces juvenile crime by 0.8% approximately.

(iii) There is a positive association between sport participation and violent crime.  However, it is only weakly significant and the author speculates that this might be related to football hooliganism and the fact that sport might provide the social occasions for such activity.

Further, using levels of literacy as a variable the author found a complementary relationship between sport, literacy and lower property and juvenile crime.  The author speculates that investment in education (cognitive abilities) and sport participation (non-cognitive abilities) reinforce each other.

The author concluded that the data prove that a relational activity such as sports participation has a measureable impact on societal environment and can also have an impact on economic policy prescriptions - investment in sport can have broader socially beneficial outcomes. However, the author concludes that to say that sport participation is not detrimental to society is not equivalent to saying that sport participation is always beneficial.  Further evidence is required regarding the issue of violent crime, larger panels are needed and disaggregated data for several types of sports are required.

Methodology

Secondary data analysis

Source of reference

The Journal of Socio-Economics, 40, 455– 463

Web reference

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1053535710001265

Links between fear of failure and students' behaviour in education and sport (UK, 2011)

Authors

Sagar, SS: Boardley, ID and Kavussanu, M

Date

2011

Keywords

Sport; anti-social behaviour; fear of failure.

Country of research

United Kingdom

Summary of findings

This UK-based study explores the nature of the relationships between fear of failure and sport experience and antisocial behaviour in sports and university contexts and the nature of any sex differences.  The authors provide a broad overview of research on fear of failure and its potentially adverse effects on behaviour and personal evaluations.  They outline five beliefs about the consequences of failure: (i) Experiencing shame and embarrassment; (ii) Having an uncertain future; (iii) Devaluation of self-estimate; (iv) Important others losing interest, leading to loss of social value and influence; (v) Upsetting important others.  Research indicates that a high fear of failure can lead to hostile and domineering behaviour and engagement in acts harmful to others.  The authors suggest that education and sport are achievement contexts in which fear of failure might predict antisocial behaviour because it is grounded in self- and social-evaluative aspects of competence.  Further, these contexts also provide an opportunity, within the same sample, to explore sex-role differences of fear of failure and its consequences as previous research indicates sex differences in attitudes to sport.

The sample was 176 male and 155 females from two English universities (average age: 22.11) who were competing in a variety of university teams in medium or high contact sports.  All completed a self-completion questionnaire.  The questionnaire collected data via a 25 item Performance Failure Appraisal Inventory, based on the five beliefs about the consequences of failure.  Anti-social behaviour in sport was explored via a self-report 13 item Pro-social and Anti-social Behaviour in Sport Scale (PABSS).  Antisocial behaviour in university was explored via an adapted version of  PABSS.

The results indicated that fear of failure moderately and positively predicted students' antisocial behaviour in both sport and university, with the authors claiming that this illustrates that fear of failure is a motive which is deeply rooted in dispositions to self-evaluation and transfers across domains.  Sport experience positively predicted antisocial behaviour in both contexts and those who reported engaging more frequently in antisocial behaviour in one context were also more likely to report more frequent antisocial conduct in the other context.  Although there were few sex-related differences in the prediction of antisocial behaviour there were significant differences in the nature of the fear of failure.  Male students reported higher levels of fear of important others losing interest and a threat to their social standing.  Females were more concerned with a fear of devaluing one's self-estimate, which the authors suggest is related to generally lower competence levels in females compared to males.  Further, males reported more frequent antisocial behaviour than females in both contexts (although the levels of such behaviour were low).

The authors point to several limitations of the research: it is cross-sectional and does not permit an investigation of direction of cause; it does not provide any indication of fluctuations in behaviour over time in academic year or sporting season; the findings are limited to the university student athletes and cannot be generalised.  However, the authors conclude that the data indicate the need to understand the differing nature of athlete's fear of failure, its possible consequences and the need to manage for this.

Methodology

Cross-sectional; survey.

Source of reference

British Journal of Educational Psychology, 81, 391–408

Web reference

http://www.wiley.com/bw/journal.asp?ref=0007-0998&site=1

Review of the Positive Futures programme to reduce anti-social behaviour, crime and drug use (UK, 2002)

Authors

Leisure Futures

Date

2002

Keywords

Sport; children; adolescents; crime diversion; alcohol/drug abuse

Country of research

United Kingdom

Summary of findings

Positive Futures is a partnership between Sport England, the Football Foundation, the Home Office Drugs Unit and the Youth Justice Board.  The aim of the initiative is to use sport to reduce anti-social behaviour, crime and drug use among 10-16 year olds within local neighbourhoods.  This is attempted via sporting programmes which involve coaching and competitions, training and mentoring, linked educational programmes and leadership training.

During the period April to September 2001, 4,136 participants took part in 10,076 hours of sports programmes, with a 78 per cent average attendance.  The aim of the research was to:

  • Carry out a 'short and sharp' review of the sporting and broader social impacts of the Active Communities and Positive Futures projects to provide evidence of what has been achieved to date, identify good practice, and inform and help to shape future investment decisions in these and related programmes
  • Provide a report of achievement for each project against its stated objectives
  • Identify good practice and make practical recommendations on how this can be extended more widely

The main report provides individual reports on all 24 schemes, with data collected via face-to-face and telephone interviews.

Each project report provides information on the following:

  • The geographical focus of the project
  • The management and partnerships
  • The nature of the sporting focus - type of activities and frequency
  • The social focus ie the target group
  • Youth offending evidence - the nature of this varies between projects, being a mix of qualitative evaluations of project workers and police statistics (recorded crime)

In most cases these evaluations and statistics point to reductions in crime and 'nuisance behaviour' during the period of the projects.  However, the authors caution about over-stating these outcomes as the impacts varied between individuals.

Positive Futures rarely works in isolation and it is often difficult to differentiate the benefits emerging from this, compared to parallel projects in many of the areas;

  • Sporting impact - the extent to which the projects had a sustainable increase in participation and contributed to associated training and development.

Again, there is evidence that most of the projects were successful in these aspects;

  • Views and evaluations of partners
  • Issues - an evaluation of both positive and negative aspects of the projects
  • Success factors - the various factors which have enabled each project to achieve its sporting and social outcomes

Although these vary, they include successful partnerships (especially with the Youth Service), support within the local community, flexibility, and the commitment of the project workers

Methodology

Case studies

Source of reference

Sport England

Web reference

www.sportengland.org