Sports programmes for three-year-olds can reduce youth crime, finds research

Early years sport programmes aimed at children as young as three can reduce youth crime and violence, according to a study from Loughborough University.

The research, commissioned by the London Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) in partnership with the Greater London Authority (GLA), looked at early years sports programmes aimed at three- to seven-year-olds.

The report authors said while previous research had shown the power of leveraging sports as a tool for crime prevention and violence reduction, little research had examined interventions targeted at children in early years settings.

The report recommends training young people with lived experience of the positive impact of crime prevention programmes to support delivery of programmes to early years age groups. It also calls for activities to be designed to support the emotional, physical, social, and cognitive age of participants, and consider including broader elements of play, physical activity and sport to match children’s development age.

Liona Bravo, programmes and policy officer, Greater London Authority, said: “This research has informed our new Early Years Pilot model, which will allow us to further test and action these recommendations, with the hope of understanding what the community sport sector needs to effectively support early years children and their families.”

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