Home » Health & Safety Channel » Emotional Injuries Center » General » Greater Protection of Children From Abuse in Sports Is Needed

Greater Protection of Children From Abuse in Sports Is Needed

U.S. Should Implement U.K. Model

Some countries are now beginning to employ protection policies in the context of sports to safeguard children from abuse.

In the UK, for example, state funding for sports governing bodies is now linked to a set of 11 national standards for safeguarding children. The Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU) is responsible for supporting and monitoring the implementation of these standards as they are ‘rolled out' across sports in the UK.

Principally this has resulted in the production and implementation of child protection policies within sports governing bodies largely dealing with adult responsibility for best practices when working with children and dealing with child protection issues. The CPSU's ultimate aim is to safeguard children through encouraging cultural change.

Organized sports: designed to build boys into men

Policy development is undoubtedly an important tool for fostering cultural change. However, there are reasons to be sceptical about the extent to which current child protection or safeguarding policies can affect real change in youth sports.

Organized sport originated in its contemporary form in the nineteenth century English public school system. The British Empire required strong, masculine leaders and it was widely believed that sport was possessed of character-building experiences that would forge such men. From its beginnings, then, sport was very much about making men, a tool by which the upper-classes could reproduce their elite position.

Whilst sport opportunities are now widely available in the developed world, the notion that sport is a virtuous system that is intrinsically good for kids persists. Of course, sport is only what we make of it - a football field is just grass and fresh air unless we fill it with people who understand something of the history of that social space and who bring a myriad of values, dispositions, beliefs and attitudes to that space. In one sense the spectrum of such values is as broad as the number of people in it, but in another, we might say that the values of our wider cultures are reflected, or even magnified, in our sports environments.