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Child Protection in Sport: Reflections on Thirty Years of Science and Activism

Centre for Sport, Health and Well-being, Heinz Wolff Building, Brunel University London, Uxbridge UB8 3PH, UK
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Soc. Sci. 2014, 3(3), 326-340; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci3030326
Received: 28 May 2014 / Revised: 11 July 2014 / Accepted: 14 July 2014 / Published: 24 July 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Contemporary Developments in Child Protection)
This paper examines the responses of state and third sector agencies to the emergence of child abuse in sport since the mid-1980s. As with other social institutions such as the church, health and education, sport has both initiated its own child protection interventions and also responded to wider social and political influences. Sport has exemplified many of the changes identified in the brief for this special issue, such as the widening of definitional focus, increasing geographic scope and broadening of concerns to encompass health and welfare. The child protection agenda in sport was initially driven by sexual abuse scandals and has since embraced a range of additional harms to children, such as physical and psychological abuse, neglect and damaging hazing (initiation) rituals. Whereas in the 1990s, only a few sport organisations acknowledged or addressed child abuse and protection (notably, UK, Canada and Australia), there has since been rapid growth in interest in the issue internationally, with many agencies now taking an active role in prevention work. These agencies adopt different foci related to their overall mission and may be characterised broadly as sport-specific (focussing on abuse prevention in sport), children’s rights organisations (focussing on child protection around sport events) and humanitarian organisations (focussing on child development and protection through sport). This article examines how these differences in organisational focus lead to very different child protection approaches and “solutions”. It critiques the scientific approaches used thus far to inform activism and policy changes and ends by considering future challenges for athlete safeguarding and welfare. View Full-Text
Keywords: sport; child abuse and protection; athlete welfare; human rights sport; child abuse and protection; athlete welfare; human rights
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Brackenridge, C.H.; Rhind, D. Child Protection in Sport: Reflections on Thirty Years of Science and Activism. Soc. Sci. 2014, 3, 326-340.

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