On the basis of an initiative by the Berlin Police and the youth department (Sportjugend) of the Berlin Sports Federation (Landessportbund) „KICK - Sports Against Juvenile Delinquency“ was founded in 1991. The first KICK - facility started as a pilot project in Berlin - Kreuzberg. In 1993 two more were added in the districts of Prenzlauer Berg and Marzahn. The facilities were organised in cooperation between the Home Office, the Berlin Police and the „Independent Commission Berlin Against Violence“.
Three criteria have been used to identify the right locations:
- areas with a high percentage of young people in the population
- areas, where social tensions are evident
- areas lacking sufficient provision of leisure time activities based on the needs of young people
The German public are becoming increasingly sensitive about the growth of violent and delinquent behavior of youth aged 14-19 years, and sometimes younger. In response to this trend KICK is trying to divert young people from becoming involved in crime by offering sport activities and applying socio - educational methods.
In most cases the causes of delinquent behavior are considered to the boredom, frustration, aggression and/or the lack of opportunities for the future. KICK strives to guide young people towards a meaningful use of their leisure time, by integrating them into sportsclubs or other useful activities. In addition to the above it is important to support young people individually in finding professional assistance, e.g. counseling and advisory services, who look after their young clients by helping them to develop new strategies and perspectives for their lives.
Youth who are at risk of becoming delinquent, often resist or refuse a regimented use of their leisure time. By using a „softer“ approach KICK is trying to make young people open to a much more active and a meaningful use of their time. Supported by our co-worker`s socio-educational care we are trying to stabilize their situations and enable them to lower the barriers and to built trusting relationships.
Close cooperation between police and socialwork in the neighbourhood has made it possible for delinquent young people to be put in contact with KICK co-workers, after their interviews with the police officers have been completed. It is important to mention that the young people get in touch with us on voluntary basis only.
The starting point of our pedagogical concept is that young people`s contact with our project is not to be considered as some kind of punishment, but as a means of organising their leisure time. By interventing early, openly and on a voluntary basis KICK is rejecting strategies that are increasing social control of youth who are at risk of delinquent behavior. Our socio-educational work is not exclusively addressing juvenile delinquents, but also other young people who are interested in our project, since it is an important aim to support the social integration of our clients.
The fundamental methods of KICK`s youth workers and sports educators are to counsel and to support young people in finding help from other institutions in the social field.
In this particular field KICK hopes to be especially efficient. Social workers in a more typical counseling situation expect their clients to come to their office. There the clients find an artificial setting, which restrains them from opening up to the counselor. KICK is trying to keep these artificial barries as low as possible by adjusting to the needs and realities of young peple. The primary aim of the initial contacts is to use sports activities rather than counseling. This makes it easier for children and youth`s to open up and to start building relationships. Communication develops naturally as a byproduct through sports and activities based on the needs of our clients.
KICK`s approach to counseling can be described as enabling conversation in an open atmosphere. Here KICK`s pedagogical co-workers will try to find out about the background and situation of their clients, aiming to create appropriate strategies which will identify, help and support them - depending on their individual needs.
Care and support
KICK offers different levels of support:
- case work, e.g. finding jobs or training positions, accompanying young people to official agencies, help with problems in alcohol, working with parents (N:B: After expulsion from school young people in statutory school age increasingly need assistance in finding new schools)
- group work, e.g. open sports, socio-cultural leisure time activities, adventure and outdoor pursuits with specific groups of young people, youth travel
- individual work, e.g. leisure time counseling, help with home work
This work often results in cooperation with other bodies responsible for youth work and youth welfare services working in the fields of:
- work and job training
- living and housing
- educational psychology
- neighbourhood oriented leisure time centres for young people
- other youth welfare services
- sports clubs, especially youth workers in the sport sector