Over the years, much research has been conducted into the relationship between sport and youth violence.
Due to the number of variables, such as the type of program; participants; and economic, demographic and geographic factors, results have been hard to quantify. Nevertheless, many experts believe that since sport contributes to both the physical and psychological development of youth, it has a positive impact on the lives of young people and dramatically reduces the occurrence of youth violence.
In fact, a recent report showed a belief that cutbacks in government funding of sport and recreation programs directly led to an increase in the occurrence of youth violence.
Studies have shown that sport provides positive experiences for young people, particularly in areas of self-discipline, self-esteem, teamwork, empathy, pro-social values and goal-realisation.
As psychological issues such as low self-esteem, the inability to communicate and a lack of empathy have been found to be some of the main causes of youth violence, proactively dealing with these issues seems like the logical solution.
Sport provides unique and valuable social interaction that helps young people in their personal development and growth. It gives them the tools to deal with social pressures and helps them form meaningful and helpful relationships – with team members, coaches and officials. As they learn respect for their team, they too they learn respect for the wider community and themselves.
While implementing sporting programs is not going to completely solve the problem of youth violence in Australia by itself, youth involvement in sport is a step in the right direction and worth exploring in more detail.