Page last updated: June18, 2014

Participating in sports reduces risk of hazardous drinking in adolescent offenders

A study in Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health aimed to find the relationship between participation in organised sports and an increase in hazardous drinking. The study focused on an underrepresented group - young offenders - adolescents who were either excluded from school or involved with the justice system. Two groups of 13–18 year-old males were recruited in Cardiff, UK: 93 young offenders and 53 non-offenders from secondary schools matched on estimated IQ, sex and socioeconomic status. Indicators of hazardous drinking were measured using the Fast Alcohol Screening Test (FAST). Organised activity participation and externalising behaviour was measured by the Youth Self Report. The Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence was also administered.

Young offenders participated in fewer organised activities and had higher FAST scores than nonoffenders. Young offenders and non-offenders significantly differed on mean FAST scores if they participated in no organised activities but not if they participated in at least one team sport. Externalising behaviour problems were unrelated to participation in organised activities.

The authors conclude that although young offenders were less likely to have participated in organised activities, for them, participation in a team sport was associated with less hazardous drinking. Vulnerable youths who might benefit most from sporting activities actually access them the least. Future research should identify the different barriers to participation that they face.

Source: Adolescent male hazardous drinking and participation in organized activities: Involvement in team sports is associated with less hazardous drinking in young offenders. B Hallingberg, S Moore, J Morgan, K Bowen and S Vangoozen. Criminal behaviour and mental health. Article first published online: 16 MAY 2014, open access.

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