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The Role of Recreational Sport in Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency

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Every young black male I grew up with played some kind of recreational sport at the local recreation center at one point in their life. Sport was an outlet for us to express ourselves, hangout with people who had similar interests, focus our attention on something positive, most importantly it became a way for us to steer clear of any street affiliation. The recreation center is in the center of a tarnished neighborhood that was surrounded by violence, drugs, also people from the age of ten to forty-five wrapped inside a life of crime. The only safe haven was the recreation center and specifically the football league, and that is usually the case around the nation. Sports counteract juvenile delinquency by creating barriers to protect youth from drug abuse, violence and crime while helping develop social skills, and change their perspective on life inspires them to become thriving adults in society.

One can likely to assume that kids growing up in the inner city or impoverished areas do not have the healthiest outlook on life, which would explain their reasons for getting involved with something self-destructive. These kids in all actuality are dealing with undiagnosed depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder etc. and most of the time are not afforded a healthy outlet except sports. According to a 2010 article written by Dr. Ian Janssen and Allena Leblanc, Janssen claims sports are a positive leisure activity coupled with being proven to improve psychosocial health outcomes in adolescents. When we give our youth a positive activity to do recreationally, sport gives us the chance to steer our youth into prosperity instead of the destructive paths that are looming. Youth recreation time being filled with something to improve their mental health instead of something detrimental is imperative. If the kids in question are not improving dramatically in terms of their mental health, at least they have an activity to distract them from obstacles that are able to persuade them from harm.

Once someone dedicates themselves to a collective whole, other outside activities that can be done are simply out of the equation, because all your time is focused somewhere else. It is stated that youth who participate in sports activities are expected to have a lower risk of engaging in delinquent behavior than youth who do not participate in sports activities. That way of thinking has led local governments to establish more youth sports programs, as a result sixty three percent of twelve to seventeen-year old play at least one sport. During adolescence forming relationships and making positive social interactions are pivotal. The people you associate with play a vital role in your life in mental shape, so being around people who are involved in a productive activity will net positive results. The attachment, commitment, belief, and involvement sports bring play a huge role in a child’s mind. Professor Robert Agnew suggests that when youth are committed to a sport they might refrain from deviant activities because it might jeopardize their opportunity to play the sport. Being involved in a team and having positive team-oriented goals with people at a young age has proven to be effective time and time again. Essentially a fourteen-year-old would not want to miss his championship game to go do something illegal.

Throughout history most juvenile detention centers allows their inmates to play organized football, and they allow this mostly for the positive benefits it may have. According to assistant Professor Madhya Gwalior, football provides qualities such as discipline, leadership qualities, educational values, and the improvement of emotional, social, intellectual, and physical development. Having a coach in your life also could be a healthy substitute in a juvenile’s life if they come from a one parent household. Historically this way of thinking has been in place for some time now. It was stated that we need to stress how imperative it is for the youth to bond to critical social milieus in their childhood. He believes children would engage in delinquency less if they had positive attachments to school, family, and society. He states involving the youth in something could only improve their behavior.

As a society we have progressed in this area, but to keep it going in the future there is certainly more we can do to continue this trend of keeping recreation positive. According to Professor Gwalior, we have to continue to ensure the area these kids are at is safe, promote these recreational activities through school, clubs, and communities so the youth can see them and be supported. Programs should have incentives for kids joining these programs. While there are other recreational activities are youth can be involved in, it has been proven that sports have the most beneficial outcomes, and if we are going to improve social justice issues through recreation this should be the route we take.


  1. Gwalior, M. (n.d.). Prevention of juvenile delinquency through sports participation. International Journal of Yoga, Physiotherapy and Physical Education, 68–71.
  2. Spruit, A. (2015). Sports Participation and Juvenile Delinquency: A Meta-Analytic Review. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 665–671.
  3. Stansfield, R. (2015). Teen Involvement in Sports and Risky Behaviour: A Cross-national and Gendered Analysis. British Journal of Criminology, 57(1), 172–193. doi: 10.1093/bjc/azv108
  4. Stansfield, R. (2015). Teen Involvement in Sports and Risky Behaviour: A Cross-national and Gendered Analysis. British Journal of Criminology, 57(1), 172–193. doi: 10.1093/bjc/azv108
  5. Agnew, R., & Brezina, T. (1997, September). Relational problems with peers, gender, and delinquency. Youth & Society, 29(1), 84+

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