Is skateboarding the answer to teen street crime

Skateboarding is a sport that has never really taken off in the mainstream UK. However, it is now being planned to be used as a tool to combat anti-social behaviour and as a weapon to fight youth crime. The streets of the UK have been consistently becoming more busy in the last 60 years and this is only set to continue as we move into the future.

It used to be the case that children could play freely in the streets, but now with increased traffic and crime this is no longer the case. This is not the sole reason why children playing outdoors has fallen, as the advent of computer gaming has meant more children are spending time inside.

When the Labour government came to power in 1997 they passed new laws that they hoped would combat anti-social behaviour. 1998 saw the introduction of the Anti-social Behaviour Order, or ASBO, but this early legislation was largely seen as a failure and in 2003 updates were made to it to strengthen its powers.

This did have a positive effect on reducing crime, however it was shown to have little longer term effect. Unfortunately, these Antisocial Behaviour Orders seemed to only be punishing children who had been brought up in bad circumstances, so although they served to punish these people they had little effect on their long-term behaviour.

In the early part of the first decade of this century, the government changed their attitudes and started programs such as the Specialist Schools Programme. This was something that helps children focus on activities extra to their academic curriculum and enabled them to play more sports and develop physical skills.

Skateboarding is largely seen as a sport with no real place in the United Kingdom. It is an American sport that never really took off here. Most children who claimed they were interested in skateboarding were merely looking for an excuse to get out of the house, roam the streets, and potentially get drunk. This negative association with the sport prevented its growth significantly and people started to view skateboarders as a nuisance, skating in places where they were not welcome.

Councils realised this problem and begun tackling it not by banning skateboarding, but by encouraging it. They specifically created places where skateboarders could skate, they created outdoor and indoor parks across the UK. These locations give skateboarders a place where they can do their sport without causing any trouble or danger to residents in their local area.

In Scotland several pupils from the Kemnay Academy have established a charity with the help of many skateboarders. Together they are promoting skateboarding at the Kemnay Leading-Edge Skate Park. Their achievements have recently been recognised through a prize from the Safer Scotland scheme. It is this changing attitude towards skateboarding that shows it as an opportunity for combating youth crime.