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Sport, science and art in the prevention of crime among children and youth

The field of youth crime prevention is very broad and diverse. The wide array of youth crime prevention programmes is characterised by a variety of goals, methods, domains and target groups.

A specific segment of programmes focuses on leisure activities of youngsters. Because leisure can be considered as most closely associated with the world of adolescence beyond school, it is regarded as an important context for youth crime prevention programmes (Caldwell & Smith, 2006). By setting up sport, science or art activities, these projects aim at preventing youngsters from offending. It is presumed that involving youngsters in such activities can prevent them from (re)offending.

In this paper, we explore theoretical frameworks used for understanding the relationship between leisure activities and the prevention of youth crime. Next, we shall examine whether scientific research has yielded empirical support for these theoretical perspectives. We will illustrate our discussion by means of examples of good or promising projects for each field (sports, art, science). In our conclusion, the most important results are to be found summarised and the implications for youth crime prevention programmes in Europe are discussed.


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