Effects of Sport on Juvenile Delinquency

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The belief that athletic participation teaches desirable educational, social and personal values has been the basis for including physical education classes in schools and having recreation sports as a corrective technique for juvenile delinquents. Numerous studies have shown a direct relationship between sport and juvenile delinquency. Segrave (1983), MacMahon (1990), and Thorlindsson (1989) all claim exercise enhances social skills, academic performance and self-esteem, therefore showing that athletes tend to be less delinquent than non-athletes. Delinquency can be simply stated as behavior which violates the social norms (Eitzen, 1998). Juvenile delinquency includes everything from bullying, stealing and smoking to drug or alcohol abuse as well as more serious offences. Since sport creates behavior that is deemed desirable by Western society, sport can therefore act as an effective and powerful way in preventing and treating juvenile delinquency.

In the mid-nineteenth century, physical activity in the form of sports activities was adopted in the English public schools. They were the first to use sports activities as a deterrent to delinquency and as a mechanism for social control. It acted as a substitute for the stealing,

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