Jamie Redknapp backs sport investment as majority of parents worry for children’s safety | UK | News

New polling lays bare their fears their children will become victims of crime and anti-social behaviour.

While 53 perent of parents are worried about the safety of their child getting home, this rises to 67 percent in urban areas. Fifty-one percent of parents feel their local area is less safe for a child to grow up in than five years ago. 

The polling by Opinium comes as a top think tank’s call for sport to be used as a “secret weapon” in the battle against youth crime.

Leading sportsmen have called for young people to have opportunities to play sport, stay out of trouble and discover a new sense of purpose.

Nine in 10 parents (89 percent) think local clubs offering sporting activities are important ways to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour.

But only 35 percent think young people have enough opportunities.

Jamie Redknapp, former England and Liverpool footballer, said: “I’ve seen first hand the power of sport in giving kids a sense of purpose and belonging, a reason to get up in the morning and stay out of trouble at night. Now more than ever we need more positive things for our children to do.”

Young people living in poorer families are almost twice as likely to have been assaulted by another young person than those in better off households – 21 percent compared to 11 percent – according to their parents.

England international rugby union player Courtney Lawes described the life-changing impact of sport.

He said: “For poor kids growing up in rough areas of the inner cities, sport can literally be a lifeline. I know of many young people rescued from the streets by finding a constructive and enjoyable outlet for their energies and getting involved in sports like rugby, football, and boxing.”

“Teenagers need structure in their lives and a safe space to let off steam. A rugby pitch, football field or a boxing ring is the perfect place to do it.”

The Centre for Social Justice, which commissioned the polling, has launched an inquiry into how sport can change lives and “restore order on the streets”.

Former tennis star Tim Henman also added his voice to the calls for new opportunities, saying sport can “transform the lives of vulnerable and disadvantaged young people”. 

He said: “It can improve mental as well as physical health as well as help to keep kids out of trouble.”

Andy Cook, chief executive of the CSJ, said: “Sport is a secret weapon that can not only change youngsters’ lives for the better but make our streets safer. I hope ministers follow this inquiry closely and unleash the power of sport and physical activity to improve the opportunities for a generation of young people.”

A Government spokesman said: “We are committed to tackling anti-social behaviour and ensuring that victims get the support they deserve. We are investing £560million in a new National Youth Guarantee, which means by 2025 every young person will have access to regular clubs and activities away from home.”

“An additional £45million fund is providing specialist support to schools in areas most impacted by violent crime.”

The inquiry will be chaired by former schools minister Lord Nash.

He said: “Sport should be firmly embedded across all schools giving students the opportunity to explore a range of different sports. Forming the habit of taking exercise at an early age is so important for future health and teaches students about teamwork and self-discipline. But we must now go further – looking beyond the school gates – to expand the provision of youth sports more generally.”

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