Summer holiday boredom contributed to riots and looting, kids say

Most young people are bored within the first three weeks of their school summer holiday, leading a number of them to get involved in illegal behaviour, according to a new survey published today (29 August 2011).

The riots and looting that occurred across the country from August 6-10 fell three weeks into the long school summer holidays coinciding with the time six out of 10 young people polled said they were bored.

The poll, of 1,000 young people aged 12-18, was commissioned by StreetChance and Barclays Spaces for Sports, to mark the national expansion of the inner-city initiative on 1 September.

StreetChance is an inner city cricket initiative run in partnership between the Cricket Foundation charity and Barclays Spaces for Sports to engage young people from deprived inner-city areas at risk of crime and anti-social behaviour. It strategically partners with the Metropolitan Police Service to break down barriers between police and young people.

Asked why they thought so many young people were involved in the riots and looting, almost a third (31%) of respondents in London said it was because young people get bored during the summer holidays, compared to 23% of respondents nationwide. Many young people were scathing of the looters; a fifth said they felt ‘angry’ and ‘disappointed’ by the riots.

Lack of respect was frequently referenced: 46% of those polled said they thought the riots and looting took place because young people do not respect police, and 43% said they believed people joined in because they thought they would not get caught.

The prohibitive cost of activities is the single-biggest reason for boredom in the summer holidays, according to 62% of respondents. Nearly half (45%) of young people said their holidays would be more interesting if there were free sports activities in their area.

Poor behaviour in summer holidays seems to be a regular occurrence for young people, with two thirds admitting to lying to their parents about what they do during the holidays and more than one in ten (12%) admit to breaking the law.

More than half the youngsters polled (54%) say their peers drink alcohol, a worrying 19% of 12-14 year olds and 57% of 15-16 year olds. Almost a fifth of those polled (19%) say their peers take drugs, with almost a third (31%) of 17-18 year olds admitting that their peers do so.

Wasim Khan, Chief Executive of the Cricket Foundation said: “The survey clearly shows that young people in cities are crying out for positive activities during the long summer holidays. It’s no surprise that boredom breeds bad behaviour. Children need an outlet to channel their energies and a structured competitive environment like street cricket can help provide this.”

Kirk Harrison, Head of Barclays Spaces for Sports said: “The harsh reality of the anger and violence witnessed over the past few weeks means that giving young people the chance to take part in diversionary activities such as StreetChance is all the more important. StreetChance gives young people the opportunity to make new friends whilst developing life skills in a safe environment. The survey underlines the importance of such initiatives in giving young people an opportunity to make the right choice.”

Other highlights of the survey include:

Almost half of young people from London are aware of gangs in their area (46.7%), compared to a national average of 35%

15% of young people from London say they can’t go out in the holidays because of bullies and gangs

London parents are more neglectful of their children, more than a fifth (21%) of London young people said their parents never plan any activities for them to do (compared to an average of 14%)

Nearly a fifth (17%) said young people joined in with the riots and looting because it was exciting

Exactly half of boys say they play sport in the holidays, nearly double the number of girls (36%)

StreetChance is a partnership set up in 2008 between the Cricket Foundation, Barclays Spaces for Sports, Cricket for Change, Metropolitan Police Service and Positive Futures. Since then 15,000 young people have benefitted from over 5,000 hours of free cricket and social inclusion activity. In July 2011, the Cricket Foundation and Barclays Spaces for Sports announced a three-year follow-on investment in the programme, working in partnership with the Metropolitan Police Service and will launch nationwide in seven cities (London (launched in 2008), Birmingham, Bristol, Dewsbury, and Manchester (all launched 2011), Hull and Liverpool (launching 2012)). The programme engages with local police across all the projects to break down barriers between police and young people.

Over the next three years, the national programme aims to engage more than 16,000 young people, train and mentor more than 200 teachers, 250 local young coaches and volunteers, and to create more than 1,600 young leaders in schools.

The project aims to increase aspiration, promote mutual respect, and enhance relationships with others, including schools, police and the wider community by engaging through cricket. StreetChance sessions are totally free of charge.

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