How sport can help solve youth crime AND save government money

To suggest social project spending cuts in Britain are to blame for the problems on the streets seen here over the past few days is at best inaccurate or, at worst, opportunistic and misleading.
Clearly countless contributing factors go toward social problems of this kind.
As difficult as accounting for all these factors might be, by looking at one at a time, some light may be shed on how society can stop this from happening both in the future and for the future.
This is why Laureus is passionate that governments should invest in social projects that focus on a country’s youth. For it is through such projects that children and young adults will learn the values that will turn them away from violence and anti social behaviour.
Laureus champions the use of sport as the unique and near universally engaging tool through which these goals can be achieved.
And a report Laureus published just a few months ago demonstrated how this belief is already showing itself to be true.
Before I show you the evidence the report offers, however, the anecdotal evidence proposed by our Academy Member Daley Thompson is convincing in itself, and not to mention pertinent considering the gang violence across England in recent days.
At the report’s release, Daley said:
“The key lies in the similarities between sport and gangs; both present a sense of belonging, status and excitement.”
For the benefit of my blog today I’ll look at two of the projects that the report looks in to: The Boxing Academy in Tottenham and the Kickz project in Elthorne Park; both of these are in London.
The Boxing Academy in Tottenham, for example, costs half as much as what is known as a ‘Pupil Referral Unit’ and has lower re-offending rates amongst the youngsters it works with.
A Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) is a centre for children who, through their behaviour, have been deemed unable to attend a mainstream or special school.
In addition to the project’s documented success over PRUs, the report also found that for every £1 invested in The Boxing Academy, society benefits from a return of £3. This comes from a higher average of future earnings for participants but also from reduced crime rates in the area too.
The Kickz project, however, can boast even more remarkable success from our report’s findings.
The Kickz project, which uses football to work with troubled youths, demonstrates an incredible £7 value for every £1 invested.
Quite simply, this means that if that £1 funding was to be cut from their budget, it would actually end up costing government a huge £6!
This is because, by cutting crime rates, the project helps save the costs to victims, costs to police and subsequently costs to the courts and prisons.
There are 75,000 new entrants into the youth criminal justice system each year. This ended up costing government a staggering £4 billion last year alone.
Laureus believes that maintaining funding in sports projects, such as those I’ve talked about here, can not only offer some of our most troubled youngsters a brighter future, but also significant financial return at a time when countries across the world are in such desperate need of it.
This is just a brief introduction to the report's findings but you can have a look at the entire document at the Laureus website here.

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