Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sachs Scholar Josh Grehan Researching Skateparks and Crime

A very common source of opposition to skateparks is the perception that they increase crime in the areas they're built. Princeton senior and Sachs Scholar Josh Grehan is doing much-needed research, based on his hypothesis that skateparks can actually reduce crime:
Tienda is advising Grehan's senior thesis, in which he is examining how communities can use public spaces to help disadvantaged youth. Grehan is conducting research to support his hypothesis that skateboard parks can help reduce crime by providing constructive outlets for youngsters. Noting that those who oppose the building of such facilities often argue that skateboard parks lead to rising crime, he said, "If it turns out there is no connection [to higher crime], then one of the major impediments to the construction of skateboard parks will be removed."
Maxwell Billieon, an entertainment executive who joined with the City of Los Angeles to build a street plaza skatepark in Wilmington, California (one of the top five most dangerous communities in the city of Los Angeles) said that "crime in this area has now been reduced by 90% and the park averages about 250 skaters a day".

That's an amazing success story, and I'm convinced we'll be hearing more stories like this as more skateparks are built around the country. But the research Grehan is doing can provide scientific data to support what many of us have already seen — that skateparks have a powerfully positive influence in the communities where they're built.

News at Princeton: Grehan receives Sachs Scholarship

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