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Big Hart: The Theatrical Side of Youth Crime Prevention

NCJ Number
Youth Studies Australia Volume: 16 Issue: 4 Dated: December 1997 Pages: 22-26
R Walters
Date Published
5 pages
The theater has contemporary relevance to young people and is a useful medium for enhancing personal development and preventing youth crime.
The use of drama in education for young people has proven to be successful in facilitating learning and personal development. Research suggests various forms of drama can be an effective medium for student interaction with diverse disciplines, and the theater has also provided an avenue to promote AIDS awareness and safe sex among young people. In Tasmania, Australia, the Big Hart program uses the theater to involve at-risk teenagers and those with criminal convictions and designed to prevent youth crime. Specific objectives of Big Hart's Rip and Tear Theatre Company (RTTC) are to provide advocacy and mentorship to achieve behavioral change and increased options for disadvantaged young people and to produce art from the experience of disadvantage and present it in national forums. The RTTC includes a 14-week program based on theater as a vehicle to increase youth self- esteem, communication, and assertiveness. About 40 young people participated in the pilot RTTC project, and 22 eventually became the core group. A 12-month follow-up study of project participants indicated only 1 of the 22 young people reoffended. Due to its positive effects on youth participants, Big Hart received further funding to prepare programs focused on HIV awareness and family violence. Big Hart has developed into a program that addresses young offenders and marginalized youth, and its theater component provides a useful catalyst for youth crime prevention and personal development. 31 references