As part of its efforts to support the implementation of the Doha Declaration, UNODC has launched a global youth crime prevention initiative that builds on the power of sports as a tool for peace. The initiative aims to promote sports and related activities to prevent crime and to effectively build resilience of at-risk youth. Strengthening the life skills of youth is a key objective in order to minimize risk factors and maximize protective factors related to crime, violence and drug use. By enhancing knowledge of the consequences of crime and substance abuse and developing life skills, the initiative seeks to positively influence behaviour and attitudes of at-risk youth and prevent anti-social and risky behaviour.
Sports for development and crime prevention
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development underlines the growing contribution of sports as a tool for peace in its promotion of tolerance and respect. It also highlights the contributions that sport can make to the empowerment of communities as a whole, to individuals (particularly women and young people) as well as to health, education and social inclusion.
More specifically, sports offer an important opportunity for building life skills of at-risk youth that allow them to better cope with daily life challenges and move away from involvement in violence, crime or drug use.
Youth as agents of change
Through partnerships with Governments, sports organizations and civil society, UNODC will conduct national and regional youth-oriented awareness raising sports initiatives to further promote civic values and disseminate the benefits of sport in keeping youth from becoming involved in crime and violence.
Youth will be placed at the centre of outreach activities as agents for change. By sharing their experiences on how sports and life skills training helped them to stay away from crime, youth will engage and reach out to other at-risk youth.
Line Up Live Up
Line Up Live Up - UNODC's evidence-informed and sports-based life skills training curriculum - has been designed as a unique tool that transfers the accumulated expertise of the United Nations and other partners in implementing life skills training for crime and drug use prevention to sport settings.
Through the Line Up Live Up programme, sports coaches, teachers and others working with youth in sports settings can target valuable life skills, such as resisting social pressures to engage in delinquency, coping with anxiety and communicating effectively with peers, through a set of interactive and fun exercises.
The training programme has been implemented in twelve countries across the world, ranging from Africa, Central Asia and the Middle East to Latin America and the Caribbean.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had harmful effects on young people and communities across the world, with factors such as the loss of education and employment opportunities leading to increased risks of crime and stress associated with isolation. In Uzbekistan, where schools have been closed for much of the time since last year March, sport is being used as a powerful tool to bring educators and children back to normal school life. In this context, the Uzbek Ministry of Public Education and UNODC recently initiated a comprehensive sport-based campaign among young people in Kokand city, Fergana Valley. This campaign brought together educators from 40 schools in the region in several gatherings and saw a diverse range of people receive new, interactive tools to address issues around corruption, human trafficking, violent extremism, and integrity and ethics.
Many parts of the world, including countries in Central Asia, have faced a surge in extremist ideology and radicalization in recent years, particularly among young people, posing a direct threat to peace, stability and development. Given the youthful population across the region and the vulnerability of young people to recruitment by violent extremist groups, it is essential to cater to their needs and put in place preventive actions that will address the root causes of violent extremism.
Effective crime prevention should not be the exclusive responsibility of law enforcement and criminal justice systems. Instead, it requires holistic and inclusive approaches that address root causes of violence and crime and involves all relevant sectors of Government, the private sector and civil society actors, including the sport sector and youth. This was the topic of discussion of the side event held on 18 May, during the 30th session of the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice.
Building on the UNODC Youth Crime Prevention through Sport Initiative under the Global Programme for the Implementation of the Doha Declaration and its "Line Up Live Up" programme on life skills training through sport, the event raised awareness on the role of sport as an enabler of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including SDG 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions, and discussed the role of the sport sector in the context of holistic crime prevention approaches, showcasing good practice examples and promoting multisectoral and innovative partnerships.
In this piece, Raghda Taweir presents a story about coach Ahmed Kahle, who is volunteering for the junior football team in Attil town in Tulkarm, and his sense of social responsibility and appreciation of sport.