Leisure as a context for youth development and delinquency prevention

Linda L. Caldwell, Edward A. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


This article highlights the importance of leisure as a context for human development as well as for prevention of risky behaviour, including crime and delinquency. We offer a brief review and synthesis of current criminology literature that examines leisure activity and then describe leisure research that may provide additional insight into why leisure may be an important context for understanding and preventing delinquent behaviour. We end with a brief description of an intervention that teaches youth to make healthy decisions in their leisure and describe a set of post hoc analyses from a data set from 628 rural youth in the United States used to evaluate the leisure based intervention. Although the data we report were not collected to examine delinquent behaviour, we tentatively conclude leisure-related variables can serve as risk and protective factors to property damage and by extension other delinquent behaviours. We suggest that helping youth become more intrinsically motivated by having goal-oriented leisure pursuits and decreasing levels of amotivation, learning to overcome peer pressure, and becoming more aware of leisure opportunities may reduce the risk of damaging property. Additionally, having parents who are aware of leisure interests, activities and friends is also a protective factor. We also found evidence to suggest that some form of leisure education intervention may be effective in preventing delinquent acts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)398-418
Number of pages21
JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Social Psychology
  • Law


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