Youth Crime vs Youth Organized Sports Essay

The thesis for my data summative will focus on the idea of a possible correlation between youth organized sports and youth crime rates. Sports are able to teach youth discipline, honesty, character building and social skills. Since there are not many variables in the data being researched most data will be taken from case studies and examples. Although there are a lot of variables regarding youth crime it would take too much time and effort to try and pinpoint all the different factors affecting youth crime (socio-economic, cultural influences etc… and instead we will focus on two major variables. The rate in which young people are committing crimes in an area and how much money is being put into organized sports and recreation. Hopefully if a correlation is found the use of organized sports can at least be attributed to the reduction of youth crime. The reason sports and recreational organizations are being used as a method to reduce youth crime rates is that punitive methods have been tried with little effect. In Ontario a “Zero Tolerance” policy.

This resulted in the number of youths being charged for criminal offences tripling between 1989 and 1993. This may seem impressive however, there was no real reduction in youth crime. Therefore the focus should be on youth crime PREVENTION rather than youth crime PUNISHMENT. It is believed that roughly 70% of all the money spent by Ontario in regards to youth crime is spent on incarcerating the offenders. Roughly 100 000$ a year is spent per offender. 1 In short money is being spent in a failing system that is costing taxpayers tremendous amounts of money.

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Sports and recreation may not completely eliminate youth crime but if it shows any correlation with reducing crime rate it will be far more efficient than the current method of incarcerating many while preventing nothing. Youth offenders usually come from poor socio-economic regions where they also tend to have lower education, lower income and can often times be found as a minority within the region this can explain why gangs are such a common phenomena, gangs comprise a fair portion of all violent crimes.

It was found that in Guam upwards of 60% of violent crime reported were tied to gangs found within the country. In Bremen Germany almost 50% of reported violent crimes are due to gangs. Similarly in a 1000 youth longitudinal survey the gangs were only 30% of the study but somehow accounted for nearly 70% of self reported violent crimes and drug related crimes2. England conducted a study and found that around 33-34 % of males who had been convicted of violent offences before reaching the age of 20 were likely to re-offend between 21 and 40 years of age.

While only 8% of males who did not offend in their younger years were found to offend during 21 – 40 years of age. Sports and recreation can be effective in stemming youth crime as it has been proven exercise converts adrenaline into energy, adrenaline causes a stress response and exercise is a healthy means in which is important as it was noted that most youth offenders come from troubled areas facing stresses regarding socio-economic pressures and low income families while also facing exclusion from school and other areas as they often times are minorities.

Athletics and exercise also help release endorphins, which causes a natural sort of high that helps alleviate stress3. Data Research A famous example of youth organized sports helping reduce crime rates is what Sean Porter attempted to do with a detention facility located in Los Angeles. The inmates of Camp Kilpatrik had a high recidivism rate. Sean Porter however believed that with the use of football he would be able to change the inmates around for the better.

He began the Camp Kilpatrik Mustangs off with an 8 man football team with the emphasize being on the ability to face adversity rather than beating other teams4. Although the Camp already had a few other athletic teams around Sean Porter intended to actively use the Eventually the team got expanded into a standard size football team in 19905. What followed was a massive improvement in the recidivism rates that Camp Kilpatrick saw. This was such as successful movement that eventually there was a documentary which was then later made into a feature length movie in 2006.

The movie featured one scene that producers had a bit of trouble deciding whether or not to incorporate the teams first game. They had suffered a loss that they were unprepared for and most of the team broke down into tears. This was a big breakthrough in the program, although graphically or statistically this has no meaning it showed that these inmates from different gangs, most of whom which were rival gangs were bonding through the sport of football and were upset that they had attempted to bond together against another team and lost.

This prompted further teamwork among rival gangs and eventually the team found itself in the championship game in which they lost a close game of 13-7. This alone would not amount to much, maybe it meant that for one year the detention centre had a good year of inmates who were willing to look past their differences. Although the detention centre doesn’t keep records or come up with statistics it is generally thought that out of inmates who participated in athletics 70% do not re offend , when in comparison to the general population of the detention centre which has a recidivism rate of around 75%6.

In short this means that the according to the camp officials roughly 1/3 of the athletes are re-offending while the rest of the camps population around ? of the inmates are re-offending, or 66. 67% of athletes do not re offend while only 25% of the general population from the camp are staying away from crime. Although there is no accurate record of recidivism rates at the camp there is a first-hand account by the staff there claiming that the inmates who partook in athletics had a smaller chance of ending up back in the detention facility.

The only variable that they gave were that one group participated in athletics while the other did not. The inmates found a place to release their stress through physical activity with this program a place where they could be accepted and learned to accept others- even those who had murdered close friends, although the movie does exaggerate some scenes the bonds were formed and some even plan on returning to give the same opportunity they were given for others in a similar situation as them.

Between the years of 1985 and 1994 the world saw a general rise in youth homicides. The Soviet Union and other parts of Eastern Europe also saw an alarming increase in youth homicides, particularly those aged between 10 and 24 there was a 150% increase as homicide rates went from 7 per 100 000 to 18 per 100 000 people. The UK also saw rises going from 0. 8 people per 100 000 to 1. 1 per 100 000 ( a 37. 5% increase). Canada however saw a different trend as the rate fell by about 9. 5% from 2. 1 to 1. 9 per 100 0007.

This was the lowest crime rate overall had been since 1980 and in fact had been part of an impressive series of patterns: this was the sixth year in a row in which police-reported crime rates had dropped ( 5% from 1996-1997) and for the fifth year in a row the violent crime had decreased ( 1. 1% from 1996-1997)8. Canada had spent an average of 2 780$ per household on recreation and sports that throughout 1997. This however can be considered a misrepresentation of data as there is a difference of 1 203$ between the highest income and lowest income quintiles.

The average expenditure for sports and recreation on the lowest quintile of income was 462$ while the highest quintile spent roughly 1 665 $ per household9. The expenditure average makes it appear as if the average household is spending 2 780$ on recreation and sports, however this is not the case and is the average nation wide. Spending for recreation and sports continued to grow from 1997 to 2008 at a steady rate to the point where it went from 2 780$ spent by household in 1997 to around 3 200$ in 2000 , 3 600$ in 2003 and 4000$ in 2006.

In comparison the crime rate in which youth tried for charges have been dropping significantly. A correlation has been found as Canada spent gradually more on sports and recreation per household while the rate at which youth have been successfully found guilty of charges. This is a much more effective use of money as households are able to moderate how much they are spending based on their income, as we saw lower income families spent less but were still able to spend a portion of their earnings on sports.

This is also much cheaper than the punishment policy in which a single offender would cost taxpayers up to 100 000$ a year, instead it is costing a household with possibly multiple children only around 4% in 2006 of what it would cost if the offender were incarcerated. International studies have shown that organized extracurriculars when added to graduation incentives was shown to reduce youth arrested by an upward of 71 %.

In London England a youth inclusion program, which aimed to involve children in “high risk” neighbourhoods found that with these structured organizations expulsions were reduced by 27% , youth arrests by 65% and an overall neighbourhood crime rate reduction ranging from 16-27 %10. Male youths tend to have a higher crime rate than females, in the year 1980 boys were four times more likely than females to commit violent crimes, however today it is half that- boys are only twice as more likely to commit violent crimes than females.

Boys account for the majority of crimes but girls dominate certain crimes such as running away and and prostitution/commercialized vice being 59% and 69% respectively. It was also found that for more minor crimes such as drug use etc. boys and girls started at relatively the same age but for more serious violent crimes girls tended to begin much sooner than boys11. In 1989-1990 37 000 adolescents and youths were brought to court, following the previous statement roughly 85% of the offenders were male (83% to be exact) that means over ? of the offenders were male.

Within this group of males 57% were above the age of 16, and 32% were 14 and 15 years of age leaving only 11% for 12 and 13 years old. This shows that at least for males sports and recreation organizations should aim to reach kids at a very young age as even 12 and 13 years old as it was found as mentioned earlier, that people who offend are more likely to re-offend therefore offenders must be reached before they reach the age of 12 and 1312.

Since the focus regarding female and male youth crime prevention are different as each gender needs different factors considered it must be decided which gender population is most at risk and is the most prevalent. The general trend tends to be however males are at most risk of joining gangs and this group is one of the biggest contributors to violent crime. In Vancouver the “Indo” gangs are comprised solely of males13, although this is not to say that females are not at risk it appears that the majority of gang members are male and this needs to be considered when coming up with prevention strategies.

This also applies to the Gridiron Gang case mentioned before as it was an all male detention facility attempting to use football specifically to help the inmates. Factors such as gender must be accounted for as in the case of sports it may become difficult to find funding or competition for within a league if not considered carefully. For example, Camp Kilpatrick would find it difficult to find competitors as it had used the local high school teams as competition for their program, however if they had been girls the high schools might have refused and the program would find itself no one to compete with.

Current incarceration costs are increasing, since 2006 Canadian federal prison costs have risen by 86% the cost in 2006 was around 1. 6 billion $ that year, but as of last year (2011-2012) was 2. 98 billion that year. The projected cost at this rate for 2013-2014 is 3. 147 billion. To keep a male inmate incarcerated in 2006 cost 88 076$ a year in 2009 that rose drastically to 109 699$ a year. On top of this in 2010-2011 upwards of 517$ million will be spent on producing and manufacturing more prisons14. This however is unnecessary as there has been a steady decrease in the national levels of severity of crime and violent crime.

In fact 2006 was the peak of the decade for Canada in terms of crime severity and violent crime incidents. 2008 was as low as the crime severity and violent crime incidents have been since 2004 and 2010 was far below any year so far for the decade15 Conclusion: In conclusion although it may not be the sole factor in the reduction of youth crime there seems to be a correlation between the availability and effort being spent in athletics and organized recreation and the reduction of youth crime rate. The old method of “Zero Tolerance” or punitive policies do not reduce crime whatsoever , yet are draining a lot of resources.

More prisons and more staff are needed to continue the current method regarding punishment, yet there is no progress. Instead , the resources saved by creating affordable alternatives such as sports and recreational organizations can be used to improve socio-economic situations around the nation which in turn will also help reduce the crime rates. The reduction on punishing youth crime will leave enough money that we can increase incentives for youth to stay out of trouble, as stated earlier when given graduating incentives along with a chance to participate in extracurriculars youth were at least 71% less likely to commit crimes.

The commitment required by extracurriculars will keep the youth occupied and off the streets, the organization will also teach the youth how to take criticism, face adversity, team building skills along with character building skills. Basically, sports and recreation allow freedom or more choice in how much a household spends and participates in based on income and is not forcing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars per offender.

Also the use of sports easily draws young children from getting involved in crime at the early age of 11 and 13. The focus of combating youth crime must be on preventing rather than punishing, it is much more difficult once a person has offended to keep them law abiding than to prevent it altogether. I believe that there is a correlation with youth crime and youth recreational organizations , the more easily they become available and are supported the more likely youth are to stay out of trouble.

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