Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal

, Volume 35, Issue 4, pp 357–365 | Cite as

The Relationship Between Israeli Youth Participation in Physical Activity Programs and Antisocial Behavior

  • Mona Khoury-Kassabri
  • Helen Schneider


Many intervention programs, including physical activity programs, have been developed to deal with youth involvement in delinquency. The current study explored whether youth participation in sport and physical activity programs reduces their involvement in delinquent behaviors. It examined the interaction effects of the features of the sports program with participation in the sports program. The sample consisted of 126 Israeli adolescents aged 13–18 (M = 15.68, SD = 1.32) who completed questionnaires about involvement in delinquency at the beginning of their sports program and again 6 months later. We found significant reductions in adolescents’ involvement in all the delinquent acts explored: crimes against a person; crimes against property, and public disorder crimes. However, no interaction effects were found between program features (sport type; program intensity; training and supervision in the program; and interaction with community services) and participation in the sports program. The findings highlight the importance of including sports programs in the interventions provided for at-risk youth and call for further investigation of the factors that may increase the benefits provided by participation in physical activity programs.


Juvenile delinquency Violence Sports, physical activity At-risk youth Sport type 



The authors would like to thank the many young people and program managers and coordinators who generously gave their time and support to make this study possible.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the Hebrew University research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


  1. Amodei, N., & Scott, A. A. (2002). Psychologists’ contribution to the prevention of youth violence. The Social Science Journal, 39, 511–526.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. ‏Andrews, J. P., & Andrews, G. J. (2003). Life in a secure unit: The rehabilitation of young people through the use of sport. Social Science & Medicine, 56, 531–550.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Armour, K., Sandford, R., & Duncombe, R. (2013). Positive youth development and physical activity/sport interventions: Mechanisms leading to sustained impact. Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, 18, 256–281.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bailey, R. (2006). Physical education and sport in schools: A review of benefits and outcomes. Journal of School Health, 76, 397–401.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Begg, D. J., Langley, J. D., Moffitt, T., & Marshall, S. W. (1996). Sport and delinquency: An examination of the deterrence hypothesis in a longitudinal study. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 30, 335–341.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  6. Biddle, S. (2006). Defining and measuring indicators of psycho-social well- being in youth sport and physical activity. In Y. Vanden-Auweele, C. Malcom & B. Meulders (Eds.), Sports and development (pp. 163–184). Teuven: Lannoo Campus.Google Scholar
  7. Burton, J. M., & Marshall, L. A. (2005). Protective factors for youth considered at risk of criminal behaviour: Does participation in extracurricular activities help? Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health, 15, 46–64‏.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Carmichael, D. (2008). Youth sport vs. youth crime. Brockville, ON: Active Heathy Links‏.Google Scholar
  9. Coie, J. D., Lochman, J. E., Terry, R., & Hyman, C. (1992). Predicting early adolescent disorder from childhood aggression and peer rejection. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 60, 783–792.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Côté, J., & Gilbert, W. (2009). An integrative definition of coaching effectiveness and expertise. International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching, 4, 307–323.‏.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Crosnoe, R. (2001). The social world of male and female athletes in high school. In D. A. Kinney (Ed.), Sociological studies of children and youth (pp. 89–110). Bingley: Emerald Group Publishing.‏.Google Scholar
  12. Danish, S. J. (2002). Teaching life skills through sport. In M. Gatz, M. A. Messner & S. J. Ball-Rokeach (Eds.), Paradoxes of youth and sport (pp. 49–59). Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  13. Danish, S. J., Taylor, T. E., & Fazio, R. J. (2003). Enhancing adolescent development through sports and leisure. Blackwell Handbook of Adolescence, 12, 92–108.‏.Google Scholar
  14. Davis, B. S., & Menard, S. (2013). Long term impact of youth sports participation on illegal behavior. The Social Science Journal, 50, 34–44.‏.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Donaldson, S. J., & Ronan, K. R. (2006). The effect of sports participation on young adolescents’ well-being. Adolescence, 41, 370–389.Google Scholar
  16. Eley, D., & Kirk, D. (2002). Developing citizenship through sport: The impact of a sport-based volunteer programme on young sport leaders. Sport, Education and Society, 7, 151–166.‏.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Elliott, D. S., & Ageton, S. S. (1980). Reconciling race and class differences in self-reported and official estimates of delinquency. American Sociological Review, 45, 95–110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Endresen, I. M., & Olweus, D. (2005). Participation in power sports and antisocial involvement in preadolescent and adolescent boys. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 46, 468–478.‏CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Farineau, H. M., & McWey, L. M. (2011). The relationship between extracurricular activities and delinquency of adolescents in foster care. Children and Youth Services Review, 33, 963–968.‏CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Foshee, V. A., Gottfredson, N. C., Reyes, H. L. M., Chen, M. S., David-Ferdon, C., Latzman, N. E., Tharp, A. T., & Ennett, S. T. (2016). Developmental outcomes ofusing physical violence against dates and peers. Journal of Adolescent Health, 58, 665–671.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. France, A., Sutton, L., Sandu, A., & Waring, A. (2007). Making a positive contribution: The implications for youth work of Every Child Matters. The National Youth Agency Research Programme Series. Retrieved June 15, 2010, from
  22. Fredricks, J. A., & Eccles, J. S. (2006). Is extracurricular participation associated with beneficial outcomes? Concurrent and longitudinal relations. Developmental Psychology, 42, 698–713.‏CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Gass, M. A., & Priest, S. (1997). Effective leadership in adventure programming. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics‏.Google Scholar
  24. Hans, T. A. (2000). A meta-analysis of the effects of adventure programming on the locus of control. Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy, 30, 33–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hirschi, T. (1969). Causes of delinquency. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  26. Khoury-Kassabri, M., Khoury, N., & Ali, R. (2015). Arab youth involvement in delinquency and political violence and parental control: The mediating role of religiosity. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 85, 576–585.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Kravets-Fenner, Y., Khoury-Kassabri, M., Aszenstadt, M., & Amedi, S. (2013). Risk factors for delinquency and anti-social behavior among adolescents treated by the Division of At-Risk Youth. Journal of Welfare and Society, 33, 41–70 (Hebrew).Google Scholar
  28. Kreager, D. A. (2007). Unnecessary roughness? School sports, peer networks, and male adolescent violence. American Sociological Review, 72, 705–724.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Langbein, L., & Bess, R. (2002). Sports in school: Source of amity or antipathy? Social Science Quarterly, 83, 436–454.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Larson, A., & Silverman, S. J. (2005). Rationales and practices used by caring physical education teachers. Sport, Education and Society, 10, 175–193.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Limbos, M. A., Chan, L. S., Warf, C., Schneir, A., Iverson, E., Shekelle, P., & Kipke, M. D. (2007). Effectiveness of interventions to prevent youth violence: A systematic review. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 33, 65–74.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Makkai, T., Morris, L., Sallybanks, J., & Willis, K. (2003). Sport, physical activity and antisocial behaviour in youth. Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology.‏.Google Scholar
  33. McKenney, A. (2001). Sport as a context for teaching prosocial behavior to adolescents with disruptive behavior disorders. Retrieved October 20, 2017, from
  34. McMahon, S. D., & Washburn, J. J. (2003). Violence prevention: An evaluation of program effects with urban African American students. The Journal of Primary Prevention, 24, 43–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Morris, L., Sallybanks, J., Willis, K., & Makkai, T. (2004). Sport, physical activity and antisocial behavior in youth. Youth Studies Australia, 23, 47–62.Google Scholar
  36. Nichols, G. (1997). A consideration of why active participation in sport and leisure might reduce criminal behaviour. Sport, Education and Society, 2, 181–190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Poinsett, A. (1996). The role of sports in young development. New York: Carnegie Corporation.Google Scholar
  38. Rhea, D. J., & Lantz, C. D. (2004). Violent, delinquent, and aggressive behaviors of rural high school athletes and non-athletes. Physical Educator, 61, 170–176.Google Scholar
  39. Russell, I. M. (2005). A national framework for youth action and engagement. London: HMSO.Google Scholar
  40. Sandford, R. A., Armour, K. M., & Duncombe, R. (2007). Physical activity and personal/social development for disaffected youth in the UK: In search of evidence. In N. Holt (Ed.), Positive youth development through sport (pp. 97–109). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  41. Sandford, R. A., Armour, K. M., & Warmington, P. C. (2006). Re-engaging disaffected youth through physical activity programmes. British Educational Research Journal, 32, 251–271.‏CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Sandford, R. A., Duncombe, R., & Armour, K. M. (2008). The role of physical activity/sport in tackling youth disaffection and anti-social behaviour. Educational Review, 60(4), 419–435.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Schmid, H. (2007). Children and youth at risk in Israel: Findings and recommendations to improve their wellbeing. Children and Youth Services Review, 29(8), 1114–1128.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Schneider, A., & Shoham, L. (2017). Informal education in Israel’s Arab society: From an overlooked field to a government priority. Inter-Agency Task Force on Israeli Arab Issues.Google Scholar
  45. Slavin, M., Pilver, C. E., Hoff, R. A., Krishnan-Sarin, S., Steinberg, M. A., Rugle, L., & Potenza, M. (2013). Serious physical fighting and gambling related attitudes and behaviors in adolescents. Journal of Behavioral Addictions, 2, 167–178.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  46. Smith, R. E., & Smoll, F. L. (1991). Behavioral research and intervention in youth sports. Behavior Therapy, 22, 329–344.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Spruit, A., van der Put, C., van Vugt, E., & Stams, G. J. (2017). Predictors of intervention success in a sports-based program for adolescents at risk of juvenile delinquency. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology.‏.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  48. Spruit, A., Van Vugt, E., van der Put, C., van der Stouwe, T., & Stams, G. J. (2016). Sports participation and juvenile delinquency: A meta-analytic review. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 45, 655–671.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  49. Statland-Vaintraub, O., Khoury-Kassabri, M., Aszenstadt, M., & Amedi, S. (2012). Risk factors for involvement in delinquency among immigrants and native-born Israeli girls. Children and Youth Services Review, 34, 2052–2060.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Zionit, Y., & Kosher, H. (2013). Children in Israel - An annual statistical abstract. Jerusalem: Center for Research and Public Education, National Council for the Child. (Hebrew).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Social Work and Social WelfareThe Hebrew University of JerusalemJerusalemIsrael

Personalised recommendations