Want to ensure your kid stays out of trouble with the law? Then tell him to go take a hike.
And tell him bring a few friends, too.
That’s because researchers from four British universities found that exposure to nature leads to reduced crime. It’s not that hiking itself directly keeps a kid from committing a crime, but that the benefits a hike offers in turn means safer, less violent communities.
Here’s the researchers’ line of logic: Cities and small towns with a lot of nature in them – trees, parks, hiking trails – means that people living there are more likely to feel closer to their community. People who feel close ties with their community are less likely to commit crimes there.
In fact, communities with a heavy dose of accessible nature on average have a 4 percent lower crime rate than those that are concrete jungles. The research appears in the journal BioScience.
Bottom line: If your town has hiking trails, take your child out on them. The odds favor he’ll feel closer to that community and will be unwilling to vandalize, rob local businesses, or commit violent acts against other townsfolk.
Learn about trail guidebooks available in the Hittin’ the Trail series.