Thursday, May 21, 2009

Do gymnasiums lower crime?

I had blogged earlier about the findings of a study that the "proliferation of violent films (in the US) have contributed towards making the streets safer by keeping violence prone individuals inside film theatres". It was found that these films and crime serials in television, aired during times when crime vunerability potential are the highest, keeps potential criminals entertained indoors and keeps them out from indulging in crime. In other words, such violent crime movies and television soaps, "crowds out" crime.

Taking cue from this behavioral insight, I have a feeling that well equipped community gymnasiums can help deter crime in cities. It is typical of our cities, especially the poorer neighbourhoods and slums, for the unemployed youth of the locality to hang around in groups. In the absence of any anchor activity and location for hanging out, such groups get pushed into the crime infested under-belly locations of the slums where they socialize swiftly into becoming criminals.

It is in this context that gyms can offer both the location and activity to nudge such vulnerable youth away from crimes. Such gyms would provide a socially accepted and legal outlet for letting out the pent-up energies of crime-prone individuals. Municipal and police authorities in Indian cities should therefore be looking at encouraging the construction of gyms, especially in crime prone localities, as part of their crime prevention strategies.

1 comment:

Aadisht Khanna said...

Gulzar,

What about the martial arts clubs in Tamil Nadu? Lots of angry young men are enrolled in those. I remember hearing that somebody did a sociological study of them. I don't know if the conclusion was that they became organised rowdies who rioted on any provocation, or that they became more productive human beings.