Child Protection in Sport

Child Protection in Sport        
Prepared by  Prepared by: Chris Hume and Christine May, Senior Research Consultants, Clearinghouse for Sport, Sport Australia
evaluated by  Evaluation by: Morgan Lander, Founder & Principal, Morgan Lander Advisory, (September 2017), Debbie Simms, Independent Sport Integrity Consultant (December 2016)
Reviewed by  Reviewed by network: Australian Sport Information Network (AUSPIN)
Last updated  Last updated: 17 May 2019       
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'Child protection' is concerned with keeping all young people under the age of legal responsibility safe from abuse, discrimination and harassment. It also involves protecting young people from those who are deemed unsuitable to be working with children, and from potentially harmful practices. 

Sporting organisations have legal and moral obligations to protect all children who participate or attend their organised (and sanctioned) events and activities. 

Child protection legislation exists in each Australian state and territory. It specifies the legal obligations of all community organisations—including sporting organisations—and how these entities are to engage and manage their staff and volunteers.

Key Messages 


Sporting organisations have a duty of care to ensure that children are protected from physical and/or psychological harm while participating in sport.


Sporting organisations are obliged to comply with the respective child protection legislation in each Australian state and territory.


Australian Government funded sporting organisations are required to have a current Member Protection Policy in place and in practice to receive public funding.

Child abuse is often considered a generic term, which encompasses a range of different forms of misconduct by adults toward children, with differing consequences. Due to the breadth of this terminology there may be legal confusion when specific examples are given, such as neglect, harassment, hazing, or bullying.

Similarly, the term child protection will have many meanings that range from a broad community based approach to very narrow definitions associated with procedures. In the context of sport, the definitional boundaries are often blurred. 

The literature identifies six common types of misconduct involving the actions of adults toward children in a sports’ setting: (1) bullying; (2) harassment; (3) hazing; (4) emotional misconduct; (5) physical misconduct; and (6) sexual misconduct (including child sexual abuse). All forms of misconduct are intolerable and in direct conflict with the ideals of sport.

  • United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (PDF  - 1.2 MB), United Nations (1989). While the Convention does not directly refer to sport, Article 19 sets forth children’s rights to protection from maltreatment, violence, exploitation, abuse, and neglect. In addition, Article 31 confirms the right of all children to play as part of their cultural heritage.
  • IOC Consensus Statement on Sexual Harassment and Abuse in Sport, International Olympic Committee (2007). This document defines the problems, identifies the risk factors and provides guidelines for prevention and resolution. The aim of the Consensus is to improve the health and protection of athletes through the promotion of effective preventive policies, as well as increased awareness of the problems.

Protecting children engaged in sport from abuse, exploitation, and any form of physical or psychological harm is a core issue for adults who administer and deliver sports programs. Like other institutions having a duty of care to children, sporting organisations are not immune to failures of policy, procedures, and systems.

How extensive is the problem?

The 2015 Safeguarding Children in Sport report (PDF  - 395 KB) highlighted that there was very limited research into children’s experiences of harm in relation to their participation in sport. Without this data it is difficult to determine the scope of the problem, or develop effectively targeted approaches to protect children from these risks [source: Safeguarding Children in Sport report, Joe Tucci and Janise Mitchell, Australian Childhood Foundation, (March 2015)]. 

A key three-year study conducted in the United Kingdom investigated the types of abuse found in a sports setting and the extent of that abuse. This research built upon other studies that tended to focus on particular forms of harm or particular participants – such as elite athletes.

  • The experiences of children participating in organised sport in the UK (PDF  - 4.1 MB), Alexander K, Stafford A and Lewis R, University of Edinburgh Child Protection Research Centre (2011). This report summarises a three year study of children and young people’s experiences of participating in sport in the United Kingdom. A large sample of young people, aged 18–22 years, were asked to describe their experiences of sport as children; interviews and online methods were used to gather the data. Evidence suggests that a significant minority of children participating in sport face negative and harmful experiences, ranging from minor misuse of power and bullying to sustained and systematic physical and sexual abuse of the most serious kind. The types of behaviour (by adults or peers) toward children considered to be inappropriate included, but was not limited to: (1) authoritarian, abusive, aggressive and threatening behaviour from adults and (in some cases) peers; (2) disrespectful treatment that included victimisation; (3) deliberate over-training or excessive physical demands; (4) ill treatment by over-zealous parents as a consequence of sport participation; (5) bullying; (6) physical abuse; (7) emotional abuse; (8) grooming by paedophiles; and (9) sexual assault and abuse. This study found that the most common form of abuse was emotional harm, experienced (to some extent) by approximately 75% of respondents; this may take many forms –from abusive language to exclusion and victimisation. Twenty-nine per cent of respondents had experienced some sexually harassing behaviour and 25% had experienced physically threatening treatment. Only 3% reported experience of sexually harmful behaviour. Differences by gender were minimal except in the case of sexual harassment, which was much more commonly reported by women.
  • Children’s experience of sport in Australia. Lynne McPherson, Maureen Long, Matthew Nicholson, Nadine Cameron, Prue Atkins, Meg E Morris, International Review for the Sociology of Sport, Volume 52(5), pp.551-569, (2015). This paper reports on a study designed to explore children’s experiences of organised sport, as recounted by young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 years. A mixed methods study design was implemented, which resulted in 107 survey responses and 10 follow-up interviews with young adults. Although overwhelmingly, young people reported the lasting developmental benefits of participation in organised sport as children, more than 50% also reported negative experiences, including emotional and physical harm and sexual harassment. The reasons for these apparently contradictory findings are explored. The role of coaches, peers, parents and the wider sporting association ethos are investigated and suggestions made for future research.

Athletes who identify as same sex attracted or gender questioning may be particularly vulnerable to this type of abuse. LGBT athletes are more likely to report harassment and psychological abuse. Research by Victoria University and La Trobe University in Australia has identified sport as a significant site of homophobic harassment. Many people have reported discrimination and exclusion in sport because of their sexuality and gender identity, and this failure by sport to provide an open and welcoming culture creates some unique challenges; not only for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people, but also for the culture within a sport.

  • The impact of homophobic bullying during sport and physical education participation on same-sex-attracted and gender-diverse young Australians’ depression and anxiety levels (PDF  - 805 KB), Symons C, O’Sullivan G,  Borkoles E, Andersen M and Polman R, Institute for Sport, Exercise and Active Living (ISEAL), Victoria University, (2014). Past research suggests that sport can be a challenging place for same-sex-attracted and gender diverse (SSAGD) young people. The aim of this study was to investigate whether homophobic bullying and abuse occurring in sport and physical education (PE) settings were associated with the mental health and wellbeing of young SSAGD Australians. The study not only explored the welfare of these young people in these spaces, but also examined whether barriers exist for SSAGD young people participating in, or continuing to participate in, sport and PE. Key messages from this research include:
    • SSAGD youth reported significantly higher mental health and wellbeing concerns than heterosexual youth.
    • Verbal homophobic abuse in these settings was strongly associated with poor mental health and wellbeing of SSAGD youth. Unconditional self-acceptance was found to be a strong protective factor against such abuse and interventions targeting self-acceptance may strengthen resilience.
    • Despite many SSAGD youth thriving in sport and PE settings, homophobia and transphobia communicates to them that ‘they are not welcome here’, which can prevent them from enjoying the many physical, mental and social health benefits of participation and to maintain lifelong participation.
    • PE class was a particular concern for SSAGD youth, where verbal and physical abuse was reported more often than in other sport settings.
    • The gendered nature of sport and PE provides challenges for gender diverse young people, and more focus should be placed on understanding their needs and on ways to encourage safer and more welcoming participation for this group.
  • Including LGBT young people in sport, a guide (PDF  - 1.4 MB), LGBT Youth North West and Pride Sports, England, (2014). This guide provides some pointers for National Governing Bodies and other sport providers on how to make their sport more accessible to LGBT youth. It also deals with making sport a safe and inclusive environment.

Evidence suggests that sexual abuse is relatively rare compared to other forms of harm children may experience in organised sport. For example, allegations of emotional abuse, bullying, and physical intimidation are much more prevalent than allegations of sexual abuse. This challenges the common perception that paedophilia in sport is rife; although the serious and criminal nature of child sexual abuse makes it the highest priority in child protection strategies.

The use of ‘punishment’, particularly in children's sport, may have abuse implications. The deliberate use of abusive language or the assignment of physical tasks may be interpreted, or used, as punishment and this, in turn, may be interpreted as abuse or harassment. While no one would sanction a coach striking an athlete, there is some uncertainty about what constitutes physical punishment; and the interpretation of psychological ‘punishment’ may be even harder to define.

A 2013 position statement by the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport implies that ‘forced physical exertion’ which is emotionally and psychologically harmful to a child or youth, can be interpreted as punishment. When the coach assigns extra push-ups, running, or verbally abuses or degrades an athlete, this is ‘punishment’. The authority position of the coach can also make ‘punishment’ a form of sexual abuse. Two tests are generally applied to any specific situation: (1) intent and (2) consent, to determine whether an action is punishment or legitimate physical exertion as part of a training program.

  • The use of physical punishment of children and youth in sport and recreation (PDF  - 445 KB), Position Statement, Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (2013). The CCES defines physical punishment of children and youth in sport as any activity or behaviour required as a consequence of poor sport performance or some other undesirable behaviour that causes an athlete physical pain, discomfort, or humiliation and is: (1) disconnected from, or not logically related to, the sport performance or behaviour it is intended to change; or (2) disconnected from, or not logically related to, improving performance in the sport; and (3) not consented to by the athlete (and/or their parent or guardian) engaged in such activity or behaviour.

Within a sporting environment behaviour or attitudes that produce prejudice, exclusion, or harassment not only tarnish the reputation of individuals, but clubs and sport as a whole. These actions can be very hurtful and offensive to those who are targeted, causing depression, anxiety, and isolation.

In 2009, all Australian governments endorsed and committed to implementing the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020. This inaugural document details the long-term, national approach to help protect all Australian children. The National Framework is being implemented through a series of three-year action plans.

A key strategy of the Third Action Plan 2015-2018 is to ensure that organisations are responding better to children and young people in order to keep them safe. The aim is to:

  • implement a child safe culture across all sectors, [including sport]; 
  • reduce the risk of a child being harmed; and 
  • foster environments that empower children and young people to speak up, recognise, and appropriately respond to threats. 
This strategy is closely linked to findings and recommendations highlighted through the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse logoOn Friday 11 January 2013, The Honourable Dame Quentin Bryce AD CVO, then Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, appointed a six-member Royal Commission to investigate Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. 

The Royal Commission investigated how institutions such as schools, churches, sporting bodies, and Government organisations have responded to allegations and instances of child abuse.

public hearing into sporting clubs and institutions was held in April 2016.

The scope and purpose of the public hearing was to inquire into:

1. The experiences of men and women who were sexually abused as children in sporting clubs.
2. The response of Tennis Australia, Tennis NSW, and the New South Wales Institute of Sport to allegations of child sexual abuse by a tennis coach.
3. The response of Football NSW to allegations of child sexual abuse by a soccer coach.
4. The systems, policies, practices, and procedures in relation to child protection and for receiving, investigating, and responding to allegations of child sexual abuse promoted and implemented by:

  • Australian Olympic Committee
  • Australian Paralympic Committee
  • Australian Sports Commission (now Sport Australia)
  • New South Wales Institute of Sport
  • Netball Australia
  • Little Athletics Australia
  • Surf Life Saving Australia
  • Football Federation Australia
  • Football NSW
  • Tennis Australia
  • Tennis NSW
  • Cricket Australia
  • Queensland Cricket
  • A local Queensland cricket club
5. Other related matters.  

The role of the Royal Commission was to uncover where systems had failed to protect children and make recommendations on how to improve laws, policies, and practices. 


  • Report into sporting clubs released. Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, Commonwealth of Australia, (December 2016). 
  • Royal Commission Public Case Study 15 (Swimming Australia). The Royal Commission held a public hearing in Sydney from Monday 7 to Wednesday 16 July 2014. The public hearing examined the response of Swimming Australia Ltd to allegations of child sexual abuse.
    • Findings of the hearing (PDF  - 890 KB). Report of Case Study No. 15: Response of swimming institutions; the Queensland and NSW Offices of the DPP; and the Queensland Commission for Children and Young People and Child Guardian to allegations of child sexual abuse by swimming coaches, Commonwealth of Australia, (November 2015)
  • Report - Royal Commission: Working With Children Checks, (PDF  - 700 KB), (August 2015). This report contains the Royal Commission’s final recommendations on Working with Children Checks. It is based on laws, policies and information current as at 1 May 2015. It contains recommendations that aim to strengthen the protection children receive through Working With Children Checks.

Final Report 

On 15 December 2017 the Royal Commission officially ended with the publication of the Final Report. 

  • Final Report, Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, (December 2017). The Royal Commission's Final Report comprises 17 volumes and includes a total of 189 new recommendations, many of which are aimed at making institutions safer for children. Together with the three final reports already released – Criminal Justice, Redress and Civil Litigation and Working With Children Checks – Commissioners have made a total of 409 recommendations. An overview of findings and recommendations relevant to sport, recreation, arts, culture, community and hobby groups is available in the Preface and Executive Summary document.
    • Volume 14: Sport, recreation, arts, culture, community and hobby groups, Final Report, Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, (December 2017).  This volume examines what was learned about institutional responses to child sexual abuse in sport and recreation institutions. It describes children’s sport and recreation in Australia, child sexual abuse in this context, and the nature and adequacy of institutional responses to that abuse. This volume makes recommendations to prevent child sexual abuse from occurring in sport and recreation environments and, if it does occur, to help ensure effective responses.

Recommendations for sport and recreation organisations included: 

  • Recommendation 14.1 - Child Safe Standards. All sport and recreation institutions, including arts, culture, community, and hobby groups, that engage with or provide services to children should implement the Child Safe Standards identified by the Royal Commission. 
  • Recommendation 14.2 - A representative voice for the sector. The National Office for Child Safety should establish a child safety advisory committee for the sport and recreation sector with membership from government and non-government peak bodies to advise the national office on sector-specific child safety issues. 
  • Recommendation 14.3 - Expanding Play by the Rules. The education and information website known as Play by the Rules should be expanded and funded to develop resources – in partnership with the National Office for Child Safety – that are relevant to the broader sport and recreation sector. 
  • Recommendation 14.4 - Improving Communication. The independent state and territory oversight bodies that implement the Child Safe Standards should establish a free email subscription function for the sport and recreation sector so that all providers of these services to children can subscribe to receive relevant child safe information and links to resources. 

With the end of the Royal Commission process, Royal Commission CEO Philip Reed, stated that: 

We have now completed our work. It's up to governments and institutions to take the next steps and implement the Royal Commission's recommendations. 'Final Report released', media releaseRoyal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, (15 December 2017)  

On 13 June 2018, the Australian Government tabled its response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The Government accepted all four recommendations in principle and identified that it had already announced in the 2018 Budget the intention to create a grass roots child safe sport initiative across Australia called ’Safe Sport Australia’. 

Safe Sport Australia will lead specifically on generating awareness of positive child safe sport practices and the exchange of child safe information and resources. A social change initiative, Safe Sport Australia will digitally connect to the millions of Australians in the grass roots sport community, targeting parents, adults and children. It will also incorporate the National Principles, based on the 10 Child Safe Standards identified by the Royal Commission. Safe Sport Australia, guided by an industry advisory committee that reflects the voice of the sport sector, will also use insights from the uptake of its resources to continue to build its knowledge base and identify areas of risk and relevant trends to inform further action around child abuse prevention and promotion of child safe sport. The Safe  Sport Australia initiative and recent child safe sport work led by the Australian Sport Commission combine to address Recommendations 14.1-14.4.Australian Government Response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, p.47, 2018


Surf Life Saving

In August 2015 Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA) announced that they were working with the Australian Childhood Foundation (ACF) to develop a comprehensive safeguarding children policy and strategy to enhance the safety and protection of children and young people across surf life saving organisations in Australia. 


  • Tennis Australia strengthens safeguarding children measures. Tennis Australia media release, (19 June 2017). The head of Tennis Australia’s Integrity and Compliance Unit, Ann West – a leading sports administrator and former law enforcement officer, has been tasked with implementing the new measures which include a 24-hour telephone reporting and assistance service, online form for lodging complaints, and a dedicated child-safety section on the Tennis Australia website. “The Royal Commission identified that we needed to improve our procedures and process in relation to child safety within the tennis family. We want to do everything we can to ensure what has happened in the past will never happen again,” Ms West said.
  • Tennis Australia criticised for lack of action after abuse claims, Mary Gearin, ABC news, (2 February 2017). Tennis Australia has been criticised for not adequately responding to last year's royal commission hearing into the alleged sexual abuse of young tennis players by a coach.

As is the case with many social factors impacting the sports domain, the issue of preventing child abuse is a serious and complex issue that affects everyone.

Everyone in the community who has a supervisory role over young people has an obligation to ensure and provide a safe environment. An extensive range of policies, programs, and supporting structures have been put in place to assist sporting organisations to plan and manage for these challenging issues. 

Australian Institute for Family Studies

Australian Institute of Family Studies. Child Family Community Australia is the Australian Government's key research body in the area of family wellbeing. It was established in 1980 under the Family Law Act 1975 to increase understanding of factors affecting how Australian families function by conducting research and disseminating findings. Recent studies include:

Sport Integrity Australia

Sport Integrity Australia works to develop national policies, resources and education to build the capacity of sporting organisations and individuals to provide safe sporting environments. Focus areas include Child safeguarding; Member protection; and, Complaint and dispute management. 

Play By The Rules

Play by the Rules is a unique collaboration between Sport Australia; the Australian Human Rights Commission; all state and territory departments of sport and recreation; all state and territory anti-discrimination and human rights agencies; the Office of the Children's Guardian; and the Australian and New Zealand Sports Law Association (ANZSLA). These partners promote Play by the Rules through their networks, along with their own child safety, anti-discrimination, and inclusion programs. 

  • Child ProtectionPlay by the Rules. Provides an overview of the Royal Commission and resources to explain what is child abuse; types of child abuse; indicators of child abuse; child protection laws; strategies for clubs, coaches, and parents;  guidelines for taking images/video of children; and an online child protection training course. 

Office of the eSafety Commissioner

The Office of the eSafety Commissioner is the Australian Government’s leader in online safety. They are committed to helping young people have safe, positive experiences online and encouraging behavioural change, where a generation of Australian children act responsibly online—just as they would offline. Resources are available relating to various online issues including: publication, imagery, child abuse images, bullying, and blackmail. For sporting organisations the information in the Photos, videos, and social media section may be particularly relevant as it provides advice relating to taking photos and videos and sharing them online.  

The two aspects of child protection legislation most relevant to sport are reporting and screening processes. Some states also require risk management or other strategies to provide a child safe environment.

State and territory governments in Australia are responsible for receiving and responding to reports of suspected child abuse and neglect. These reports can be from anyone, including members of the public. It is strongly recommended that anyone who has reasonable grounds to suspect that a child or young person is at risk of being abused and/or neglected reports it to the relevant authorities.

Child Protection legislation also generally contains a list of particular occupations that are mandated to report any suspicion of abuse or neglect of a child. Teachers, doctors, nurses, or police are often included in these lists as their work requires them to frequently deal with children. However, the list is different for each state/territory and can range from a limited number of occupations (QLD), to more extensive lists (ACT, NSW, SA, TAS, VIC, WA), through to every adult (NT; and VIC for sexual offences). 

  • Mandatory reporting of child abuse and neglectChild Family Community Australia, (last updated September 2017). This sheet examines legal provisions requiring specified people to report suspected abuse and neglect to government child protection services in Australia.

Child protection legislation 

 Australian Capital Territory map

Australian Capital Territory (ACT)

Jurisdiction - Australian Capital Territory
Principal Act - Children and Young People Act 2008 (ACT)
Other relevant Acts/Legislation
  • Family Law Act 1975 (Cth)
  • Adoption Act 1993 (ACT)
  • Human Rights Act 2004 (ACT)
  • Human Rights Commission Act 2005 (ACT)
  • Public Advocate Act 2005 (ACT)
  • Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Amendment (Parental Responsibility Contracts) Act 2006 (NSW
  • The Working with Vulnerable People (Background Checking) Act 2011  (ACT)

 New South Wales map

New South Wales (NSW)

Jurisdiction - New South Wales
Principal Act - Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 (NSW)
Other relevant Acts/Legislation
  • Family Law Act 1975 (Cth)
  • Child Protection (Offenders Registration) Act 2000 (NSW)
  • Crimes Act 1900 (NSW)
  • The Ombudsman Act 1974 (NSW)
  • Child Protection (Working with Children) Act 2012  (NSW) 

 Northern Territory map

Northern Territory (NT)

Jurisdiction - Northern Territory
Principal Act - Care and Protection of Children Act 2007 (NT)
Other relevant Acts/Legislation
  • Family Law Act 1975 (Cth)
  • Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Amendment Bill 2009 (NT)
  • Information Act 2006 (NT)
  • Disability Services Act 2004 (NT)
  • Criminal Code Act 2006 (NT)

 Queensland map

Queensland (QLD)

Jurisdiction - Queensland
Principal Act - Child Protection Act 1999 (Qld)
Other relevant Acts/Legislation
  • Family Law Act 1975 (Cth)
  • Child Protection Reform Amendment Act 2014 (Qld)
  • Public Guardian Act 2014 (Qld)
  • Family Child and Commission Act 2014 (Qld)
  • Education (General Provisions) Act 2006 (Qld)
  • Public Health Act 2005 (Qld)
  • Commission for Children and Young People and Child Guardian Act 2000 (Qld)
  • Adoption of Children Act 1964 (Qld)
  • Working with Children (Risk Management and Screening) Act 2000 (Qld) 

 South Australia map

South Australia (SA)

Jurisdiction - South Australia
Principal Acts - Children's Protection Act 1993 (SA); Children & Young People (Safety) Act 2017
Other relevant Acts/Legislation
  • Family Law Act 1975 (Cth)
  • Young Offenders Act 1994 (SA) 
  • Adoption Act 1988 (SA)
  • Family and Community Services Act 1972 (SA)
  • Children's Protection Regulations 2006 (SA)

 Tasmania map

Tasmania (TAS)

Jurisdiction - Tasmania
Principal Act - Children, Young Persons and their Families Act 1997 (Tas.)
Other relevant Acts/Legislation

  • Family Law Act 1975 (Cth)
  • The Family Violence Act 2004 (Tas.)
  • Children, Young Persons and their Families Amendment Act 2009 (Tas.)
  • Registration to Work with Vulnerable People Act 2013 (Tas.)
  • Registration to Work with Vulnerable People Regulations 2014 (Tas.)

 Victoria map

Victoria (VIC)

Jurisdiction - Victoria
Principal Act - Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 (Vic.)
Other relevant Acts/Legislation
  • Family Law Act 1975 (Cth)
  • Working with Children Act 2005 (Vic.)
  • Child Wellbeing and Safety Act 2005 (Vic.)
  • The Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic.)
  • The Commission for Children and Young People Act 2012

 Western Australia map

Western Australia (WA)

Jurisdiction - Western Australia
Principal Act - Children and Community Services Act 2004 (WA)
Other relevant Acts/Legislation
  • Family Law Act 1975 (Cth)
  • Working with Children (Criminal Record Checking) Act 2004 (WA)
  • Family Court Act 1997 (WA)
  • Adoption Act 1994 (WA)
  • Child Care Services Act 2007 (WA)


State and Territory Governments have developed programs and resources to assist in the management of child protection in a sporting environment. All jurisdictions have a 'working with children' or 'police record check' screening protocol to determine if a person is suitable to work with children. In recent years some state/territory jurisdictions have broadened screening protocols to include persons working with vulnerable people; meaning the elderly, persons with disability, as well as children.

 Australian Capital Territory map
 New South Wales map

New South Wales (NSW)

  • Safeguarding children—all sporting organisations have a responsibility to provide safe environments for children and young people, ensuring they are safe from abuse and protected from people unsuitable to work with children. In NSW the Working With Children Check (WWCC) is a legal requirement for those in child related work, paid or voluntary.
  • Working with Children Check
  • Office of the Children's Guardian

 Northern Territory map

Northern Territory (NT)

 Queensland map

Queensland (QLD)

The next chapter in child protection legislation for Queensland: options paper, Government of Queensland, (November 2016). The Queensland Government is committed to building a new child protection and family support system that meets the needs of Queensland children, young people and families, now and into the future. As part of the Supporting Families Changing Futures reform program, we are undertaking a comprehensive redesign of the Child Protection Act 1999. 

 South Australia map

South Australia (SA)

Government of South Australia’s response to the Child Protection Systems Royal Commission report: The life they deserve, Government of South Australia, (November 2016). Children and young people have a fundamental right to grow up happy and cared for, to be kept safe from harm and to be supported to fulfil their potential. The government's response, 'A Fresh Start,' aims to improve outcomes for vulnerable children, their families and the broader South Australian community by proposing extensive improvements to our state’s child protection system. It responds to each of the recommendations from the Child Protection Systems Royal Commission, but also goes further to develop a broader child development system. This system begins before birth and seeks to avoid children ever needing statutory child protection.

Child Protection Systems Royal Commission: SA commits $432 million to changes, Nick Harsen, ABC news, (29 November 2016). South Australia will spend $432 million on changes to its child welfare systems, in the wake of scathing findings by the Child Protection Systems Royal Commission.

 Tasmania map

Tasmania (TAS)

 Victoria map

Victoria (VIC)

Child safe standards. Victoria has introduced compulsory minimum standards that apply to organisations that provide services for children to help ensure the safety of children. The child safe standards form part of the Victorian Government’s response to the Betrayal of Trust Inquiry.

From 1 January 2017, the Victorian Child Safe Standards will apply to sporting organisations that operate and provide sporting services to children within Victoria (including National Sporting Organisations). There are seven different requirements which make up the standards, and with which sports will be required to comply. Vicsport provides a series of information sheets and templates designed to support State Sport Associations and Regional Sports Assemblies to meet the Child Safe Standards.

Working With Children Check

 Western Australia map

Western Australia (WA)

  • Child safeguarding, (WA Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries). Every child has the right to participate in sport and recreation activities without risk to their physical and emotional wellbeing.
  • Working with Children Check and related resources.  


Member Protection

Member Protection Policies are considered a key part of a sport's integrity framework [source: Sport Governance Principles: Principle 8, Sport Australia (2020)], one of several steps to address issues of harassment, discrimination, and child protection within organisations. 

Australian Government funded sports are required to have an updated Member Protection Policy to receive government funding.

Additionally, in May 2016, prior to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, the Australian Olympic Committee amended its Team Selection By-Law to state that:

Only those NFs (National Federations) that have adopted and implemented a Member Protection Policy with which they conform and comply may nominate athletes for selection to, or membership or continued membership of, any (Olympic) Team. Coates introduces tighter controls to prevent child abuse, AOC Media Release, 7 May 2016

In effect this means that athletes from any NF without a Member Protection Policy will not be allowed to compete at any Olympic Games.  

Sporting Organisations 

A child-safe organisation has a commitment to protect children from physical, sexual, emotional, and psychological harm and from neglect. This is more than simply minimising the risk or danger to children. It is about building an environment that is both child-safe and child-friendly. An environment where children can feel respected, valued, and encouraged to reach their full potential.

This commitment is a part of the organisation's culture, reinforced by policies and procedures, and is communicated and supported by all members.

You have created a child-safe organisation when your organisation recognises its moral and legal responsibilities to ensure that the children involved are protected and it provides a safe and positive environment for them.SA Office for Recreation and Sport

Tools & resources

  • Child Safe Sport Toolkit, Australian Sports Commission, (2017). Although responsibility for child safeguarding moved to Sport Integrity Australia when they commenced on 1 July 2020, the material is still available. View the material as it appeared on the Sport Australia website.
  • Safeguarding Children Accreditation Program. A unique voluntary accreditation scheme managed by the Australian Childhood Foundation (ACF) for organisations (such as sporting organisations/clubs) who have a duty of care to children and young people whilst delivering a service or activity to them and/or their families. The Safeguarding Children Program provides the resources to support organisations meet evidence based standards that ultimately reduce the risk of abuse of children and young people by employees and volunteers. Sport Australia (formerly the Australian Sports Commission), Surf Life Saving Australia, Swimming Australia, Tennis Australia, and the Australian Football League (AFL) are partner organisations. 
  • Child Protection ResourcesQueensland Academy of Sport (QAS), (March 2017). Resources include an Athlete Wellbeing Framework; Child Protection Policy & Procedure; QAS Code of Conduct for interacting with children & young people; and a Question & answers for athletes factsheet. 
  • Safeguarding Children Resources. Tennis Australia, (2017). Resources include Tennis Australia's Commitment Statement, Member protection policy, Safeguarding children guidelines, and additional resources for administrators and parents/guardians of children. 
  • Child Protection ResourcesGymnastics Victoria (August 2016). Updated standards and policies in line with the Victorian Government's compulsory minimum standards that apply to all organisations that provide services to children which came into effect in January 2017. Policies include: Child safe & child friendly policy; Member protection policy, including Codes of behaviour; Grievance & complaints policy; Photographic and filming policy; and Child protection code of conduct. 
  • Safe Sport Framework. Swimming Australia,  (July 2016). The Framework has been developed by a committee of experienced people from a range of our Member Associations in consultation with the Australian Childhood Foundation and Sport Australia (formerly the Australian Sports Commission). It includes introduction & definitions; Child protection commitment statement; Codes of conduct; and Complaints, procedures and guidance. 
  • Create a child safe environment. Resources from the Government of South Australia, Office for Recreation and Sport, (July 2016).
  • Child Protection Toolkit, Institute of Community Directors Australia, (January 2016). The toolkit is designed to be read by school council members, principals and senior teachers, as well as board/committee members and senior managers of any not-for-profit organisation that works with children, though anyone can and should take it upon themselves to ensure every organisation is acting appropriately.
  • Child protection and safeguarding in sport. This section is designed to provide more information on child safeguarding and - by linking with our Toolkit section - the necessary tools to develop and implement a culture that includes practices, procedures and policies. These practices, procedures and policies are to ensure that all who participate in sport remain safe, have fun and learn.
  • The Community Club Toolkit Designed for sports clubs, community groups, youth centres or anyone trying to organise community events, sports activities or structured programs for informal groups and young people.
  • Child Protection in Sport -resource library, UK Child Protection in Sport Unit,


Your club is responsible for creating a safe place for your child to have fun, develop skills, learn valuable lessons, and build character. As a parent there are a number of things you can do to maximise your child’s enjoyment and minimise potential risks to their well-being including knowing the right questions to ask your club administrators. You can ask to see if the club has a junior sport policy; has a member protection policy; regularly screens its coaches and administrators; and/or regularly promotes guidelines for creating a safe, fair, and inclusive environment for participants?

  • Parent/guardian resource kitTennis Australia, (2017). The resource kit is intended to provide you with information regarding child-safety initiatives in Australian tennis. The resources have been developed in association with the ACF and are based on nationally recognised standards for the ACF Safeguarding Children program. This kit is part of a broader campaign, additional resources are available from Tennis Australia's website.
  • Helping keep your child safe in sport, (PDF  - 349 KB),  Child protection leaflet for parents, UK Child Protection in Sport Unit, (2015)
  • Keeping Children Safe in Recreation and Sport, (PDF  - 2.7 MB), Government of South Australia, Office of Recreation and Sport, (July 2017).
  • Managing Risks - Parents Play By The Rules. 
  • The Underwear Rule Help keep your child safe. UK National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. Teach your child the Underwear Rule and help protect them from abuse. It's a simple way that parents can help keep children safe from sexual abuse – without using scary words or even mentioning sex. Our simple guides (available in multiple languages) will help you talk PANTS with your child. 

Acquiring and Displaying Images of Children

In Australia there is no federal law restricting photography of people in public spaces as long as the images are not: indecent, used for inappropriate purposes, in violation of a court order, defamatory, or used for commercial purposes (this may require consent). However, photographing children involved in sport and recreation activities can put children at risk, particularly if the images are used inappropriately, posted on websites, or distributed in publications. Mobile phone technology has added a new dimension to unsolicited photography and has introduced privacy issues. At this time, technology is still well-ahead of legislation.

The following resources address the issue of acquiring and displaying images of children:

  • Images of Children, Play By The Rules, (June 2016). 
  • Images of children and young people online, Australian Institute of Family Studies: Child Family Community Australia, (April 2015). The internet has become a popular communication tool for children and young people, as well as adults, businesses and organisations. There are a range of reasons why people or organisations might wish to publish images of people online, including for recording, documenting and advertising or for promoting an organisation's activities and experiences.
  • Unauthorised photographs on the internet and ancillary privacy issues, Queensland Government, Department of Justice and Attorney-General, (July 2016).
  • Photos, videos, and social media. Office of the eSafety Commissioner, Australian Government. Provides advice relating to taking photos and videos and sharing them online.  

    Cyber Bullying

    Cyberbullying of children, Australian Policy Online, (March 2016). The Internet, mobile phones, and other technological innovations have become entrenched in Australian life. These technologies create far-reaching benefits for youth. Nevertheless, these technologies have also introduced a tranche of online bullying behaviours known as cyberbullying, adding to the longstanding challenges associated with traditional school bullying. Cyberbullying has been an identified issue since at least the early 2000s; however, the issue has gained greater attention as more Australian children use social media and communication technologies more frequently.

    Cyberbullying can cause immense distress to victims, including long term psychological and mental health damage, and in some cases suicide. Stopping this harmful behaviour has become a matter of high priority for authorities, and Australian schools in particular. 

    • CyberbullyingOffice of the eSafety Commissioner, Australian Government. Cyberbullying is the use of technology to bully a person or group with the intent to hurt them socially, psychologically or even physically. Provides advice on what to do if you, or a friend are being cyberbullied. While adults can be cyberbullied, or engage in cyberbullying, the focus of this e-brief is on children. The paper outlines cyberbullying’s prevalence in Australia and its impact on individuals and schools. It discusses key government responses at the Commonwealth and State level, and international reviews of the effectiveness of anti-bullying programs. 
    • Majoring in Cyberheckling, Reilly R, Sports Illustrated, Volume 106, Issue 13 (2007). The author discusses the taunting of athletes over the Internet. 

    Handling complaints 

    Sporting organisations are encouraged to have specific and legally appropriate policies and procedures in place for handling complaints. Any complaint must be taken seriously and addressed; victims treated with sensitivity; and the adult subject of the allegation treated with due fairness, within the policies and procedures of the organisation.

    • Best practice for handling child abuse investigations in sport, Spaffort R, Pepper C and Ryan C, Law In Sport, (published online 6 January 2017). Some of the UK’s most iconic and well-known institutions have faced with allegations of historical sex abuse of young people. Particular attention is now focussed upon the world of football, which is currently facing a tidal wave of sex abuse allegations made by former players. This article examines: (1) why this is happening in sport; (2) recognition that sex abuse in the UK must be addressed; (3) what to do if an allegation is made; and (4) investigation protocols.
    • Managing allegations of child abuse in sport and recreation (PDF  - 200 KB), Government of South Australia, Office for Recreation and Sport (2016). Guidelines for organisations in managing child abuse allegations or managing a situation where a person, who works within the organisation or an affiliate, has been charged with misconduct towards children. When issues of child abuse occur, kit is important that they are managed appropriately to minimise any further risk to the child and to ensure victims and their families are supported appropriately to reduce the impact of an offence. Allegations against adults of misconduct towards children are complex and sensitive matters. These Guidelines provide general assistance about the matters to be considered and actions that may need to be taken at different stages in the resolution of an allegation. 


    Bravehearts mission is to stop sexual assault in the community and it does this through a range of activities including educating kids with strategies and skills to stay safe in a range of situations from bullying to sexual assault. They have been working with Little Athletics among others to train up staff about the issue. 

    • In May 2018 Gymnastics Australia announced an initiative with Bravehearts to deliver specialised education, training services, risk management and cultural reform outcomes to the management, staff, parents and children of Gymnastics Australia. Affiliated clubs will be provided with resources while Bravehearts’ specialised training will be a mandatory requirement for all coaches and officials. 



    Ski & Snowboard

    • Child Safe Sport resources. Ski & Snowboard Australia (2018). Resources include Statement of Commitment to safety and wellbeing of children and young people; Child Safety Policy (excerpt from SSA Member Protection Policy, August 2017); and links to additional resources and upcoming seminars.  

    Sport Australia

    In 2014 Sport Australia (formerly the Australian Sports Commission) engaged the services of the Australian Childhood Foundation (ACF) to complete a blueprint report which looked at the capacity of sport to protect children and young people from abuse, harm, and exploitation. 

    In December 2017 a 'Child Safe Sport Toolkit' was released along with a process to tailor the Toolkit to suit individual sport needs. While responsibility for child safeguarding moved to Sport Integrity Australia when they commenced on 1 July 2020, the material is still available. View the material as it appeared on the Sport Australia website. 

    The Sport Australia Board also released its own Child Safe Commitment Statement which highlights the organisation's 'zero tolerance for any behaviour that puts the wellbeing of children and young people at risk'. 


    • Safe Sport Framework. Swimming Australia,  (July 2016). The Framework has been developed by a committee of experienced people from a range of our Member Associations in consultation with the Australian Childhood Foundation and Sport Australia (formerly the Australian Sports Commission). It includes introduction & definitions; Child protection commitment statement; Codes of conduct; and Complaints, procedures and guidance. 


    • Safeguarding Children ResourcesTennis Australia, (2017). Resources include Tennis Australia's Commitment Statement, Member protection policy, Safeguarding children guidelines, and additional resources for administrators and parents/guardians of children. 

    Child Protection Policies and Procedures, (PDF   - 188 KB), Women Win (2012). Women Win (WW) is an internationally recognised centre of excellence on gender and sport. This policy is developed to ensure the highest standards of professional and personal practice by persons associated with Women Win, both inside and outside the work environment. This includes but is not limited to: staff, volunteers, interns, the leadership and beneficiaries of program partners (defined in this document as: local organisations working with children in sports related programs), consultants, suppliers, investors, strategic partners, researchers, Board members, Advisory Council members. Specifically this Child Protection Policy aims to protect children by prohibiting:
    • hitting, physically assaulting or physically abusing children;
    • any relationships with children which are exploitative, abusive or put children at risk of abuse;
    • employing children in contravention of ILO Convention 138 and 182;
    • putting children in harmful or potentially harmful situations.
    International Safeguards for Children in Sport, (PDF File  - 1.1 MB), International Safeguarding for Children in Sport Working Group, (2014). Millions of children and young people take part in sporting activities every day across the world. For some children this is purely for recreation and fun. Others may participate in sport for development programmes. For some young people sport may be their chosen future career, either as talented athletes, as coaches or as officials. Sport may also be used as a vehicle for diverting young people from anti-social or criminal behaviour. Children have the right to participate in sport in a safe and enjoyable environment. Their rights are enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

    Belgium FlagBelgium

    • A green flag for the Flag System? Towards a child protection policy in Flemish sport, Vertommen, Tine; Toftegaard-Stoeckel, Jan; Vandevivere, Lore; Van Den Eede, Filip; De Martelaer, Kristine, International Journal of Sport Policy, Volume 8(1), (March 2016). Over the past decade, the international agenda on the prevention of child sexual harassment and abuse in sport has been strengthened by a number of general policy recommendations. Despite a growing body of literature and research about sexual harassment and abuse in sport, there is hardly any evidence-based policy and prevention research to guide the policy implementation process. By using the Flemish sport system as its empirical focus, this article investigates the feasibility of the so-called Flag System to translate policy into practice. The Flag System is a didactic tool created to assist sport stakeholders in the assessment of sexual behaviour involving children. It is in the process of being implemented in Flanders, and preliminary findings suggest a high level of feasibility at all levels of organized sports. Demonstrating that a number of inhibiting forces have effectively been reduced in Flanders, the current analysis of the process of planned change suggests that the Flag System has potential in bridging the gap between policy and practice and may also be suitable for implementation in other Western countries. 

    Canada FlagCanada

    • Minister Duncan Announces Stronger Measures to Eliminate Harassment, Abuse and Discrimination in Sport, Canadian government media release, (19 June 2018). Effective immediately: Federally funded sport organizations must take all necessary measures to create a workplace free from harassment, abuse or discrimination of any kind; They must immediately disclose any incident of harassment, abuse or discrimination that could compromise the project or programming to the Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities; They must make provisions—within their governance framework—for access to an independent third party to address harassment and abuse cases; They must provide mandatory training on harassment and abuse to their members by April 1, 2020 and are challenged to make this a priority and put mandatory training in place as soon as possible.
    • Responsible Coaching Movement, Coaching Association of Canada, (June 2016). The Responsible Coaching Movement (RCM) is a multi-phase system-wide movement, coordinated by the Coaching Association of Canada and the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport that has the potential to affect all sport organizations and coaches. The RCM is the result of extensive ongoing consultation with the Canadian Sport Community. These consultations will guide the different phases of the RCM that will address the role coaches play with issues relating to the health and safety of athletes, both on and off the field of play.

    Europe FlagEuropean Union (EU)

    • Pro Safe Sport, Council of Europe, European Union. The project entitled “Pro Safe Sport +: Put an end to sexual harassment and abuse against children in sport” (PSS+) is a nine-month project that commenced in April 2017, aimed at promoting a safe and healthy environment for young athletes. Sexual harassment, abuse and exploitation of children are widespread violations of the rights of the child, compromising the children’s social development and often having devastating mental and physical health consequences. Sport is an environment that encourages close relationships and trust between peers, coaches, team and support staff. Combating and preventing all forms of gender-based violence in the field of sport, and in particular sexual violence against children, is a priority for both the European Union (EU) and the Council of Europe (CoE). Progress has been made to implement policy standards that can help to effectively protect children; and prevent and respond to sexual and other forms of gender-based violence in sport. Despite the calls for reform and efforts to create standards that apply to sporting environments, progress is still slow and fragmented. A number of EU member states and sport organisations still have not prepared and adopted a national policy against sexual violence in sport.

    Ireland FlagIreland

    • Code of Ethics and Good Practice for Children's Sport, (2006). By following the principles, policy and practice guidelines contained in the Code, adult sport leaders are playing their part in providing an enjoyable and safe environment in which children can learn and thrive. As citizens, adults have a responsibility to protect children from harm and to abide by government guidelines in responding to and reporting child protection concerns. 

    New Zealand FlagNew Zealand

    • Good Practice Principles for the Provision of Sport and Recreation for Young People, Sport New Zealand, (June 2017). Early experiences shape life-long attitudes. It's critical that young people enjoy their formative sport and recreation experiences in order to develop and retain a love of sport for the rest of their lives.
    • Safe Sport for Children, (PDF   - 1.0 MB), Sport New Zealand (2014). Children want to be in an environment that is safe and supportive, where they are encouraged to be the best they can be and gain maximum enjoyment from what they are doing. Safe sport for children is about balancing what children want to get from their sports experience while ensuring they are not subject to harm caused by an adverse social/or physical environment. Children can be harmed through their experiences of sport and recreation. This harm can take many forms including: physical harm from engaging in a physical activity, emotional abuse, bullying, put-downs, inappropriate cultural practices, physical and sexual abuse, and other harmful practices. Harmful practices have no place in children’s sport.

    United Kingdom flagUnited Kingdom (UK)

    • Child abuse in sport and the progress made towards eradicating it, David Conn, The Guardian, (30 December 2016). Child protection expert Celia Brackenridge says UK sport was beset by a culture of ignorance and denial until the 1990s but it now sets the gold standard. 
    • Best Practice For Handling Child Abuse Investigations In SportLaw In Sport, (6 January 2017). Over the last few years, we have seen some of the UK’s most iconic and well-known institutions and individuals being faced with allegations of historical sex abuse of young people. Particular attention is now focussed upon the world of football, which is currently facing a tidal wave of sex abuse allegations made by former football players.[1] Numerous police forces are reported to have begun investigations as a result of hundreds of people coming forward to report sex abuse in connection with football in the UK.
    • Top 10 Tips For Safeguarding Children And Vulnerable Adults In Sports, Alice Cave, Law in Sport, (6 December 2016). Disclosures by a number of former professional football players in recent weeks that they were victims of sexual abuse as children have highlighted the challenges which sports organisations face in trying to keep young participants safe. This demonstrates that real damage can be done if sports organisations are unable to prevent abusers from coming into contact with children through sport. This problem seems unlikely to be confined to football, and other sports may well become the focus of media attention over the coming weeks and months.
    • UK National Child Protection in Sport Unit. This is a partnership between Sport England, Sport Northern Ireland and Sports Wales. The Unit maintains a website which contains information including Resources, News and Events, Help and Advice. 

    USA FlagUnited States

    • Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act of 2017, Public Law No: 115-126, U.S. Government Publishing Office, (2 February 2018). Partially in response to the Larry Nassar case this Federal law was passed requiring sports governing bodies to promptly report allegations of abuse to law enforcement agencies. 
    • U.S. Center for SafeSport, Opened in March 2017 and headquartered in Denver, Colorado, the U.S. Center for SafeSport was initially chartered by the U.S. Olympic Committee as an independent, non-profit organisation focused on preventing physical, emotional and sexual abuse in sport. It collaborates with sport organizations to foster a culture of safety by raising awareness, developing best practices, and providing education and training to promote respect and prevent abuse.
      • SafeSport CodeU.S. Center for SafeSport, (2017). The complete SafeSport code for the Olympic and Parlympic Movement.
    • United States Olympic Committee –Recognizing, reducing and responding to misconduct in sport: Creating your strategy (PDF  - 1.5 MB), USOC Safe Sport Handbook (2012). There are many reasons to play sport with many potential benefits to participants. Unfortunately, sport can also be a high-risk environment for misconduct, including child physical and sexual abuse. This handbook offers strategies to deal with misconduct, they include: training and education; screening of staff, volunteers and contractors; establishing boundaries; managing training and competition; responding to abuse, misconduct and policy breaches, and; monitoring.

    Larry Nassar/USA Gymnastics
    In one of the most high profile sex abuse scandals in years doctor Larry Nassar, former doctor for USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University, was sentenced in early 2018 to more than 360 years in prison. Over 250 women, including several Olympic champions, accused Nassar of sexual abuse, with incidents occurring over decades under the guise of ‘medical treatment’. The scandal led the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) to demand the resignation of the entire USA Gymnastics board. USOC also committed to launching an independent investigation into whether anyone in USA Gymnastics knew of the abuse and the systematic failures that led to the abuse being unchecked for so long. These, and some other stipulations, were required to be met or the organisation would be decertified. Additionally, a number of high profile sponsors withdrew support from USA Gymnastics. 

    USA Swimming
    In February 2018 a media investigation alleged institutional cover-up of long-term abuse by high level swimming coaches, staff, and executives at USA Swimming. Investigations by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and Department of Homeland Security have reportedly been opened and just days after the initial media reports were released two high-level executives resigned. Tim Hinchey, USA Swimming president and CEO, has publicly stated that “While we disagree on several of the reported statements and many of the conclusions in recent media reports, members were failed, and we are doing everything we can to make sure it never happens again”. 

    Where possible, direct links to full-text and online resources are provided. However, where links are not available, you may be able to access documents directly by searching our licenced full-text databases (note: user access restrictions apply). Alternatively, you can ask your institutional, university, or local library for assistance—or purchase documents directly from the publisher. You may also find the information you’re seeking by searching Google Scholar.

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    Research iconResearch

    • Child Protection in Sport: Reflections on Thirty Years of Science and Activism, Celia H. Brackenridge and Daniel Rhind, Social Sciences, (24 July 2014). 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.
    • Children’s experience of sport in Australia. Lynne McPherson, Maureen Long, Matthew Nicholson,, International Review for the Sociology of Sport, Volume 52(5), pp.551-569, (2015). This paper reports on a study designed to explore children’s experiences of organised sport, as recounted by young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 years. Overwhelmingly, young people reported the lasting developmental benefits of participation in organised sport as children. More than 50% also reported negative experiences, including emotional and physical harm and sexual harassment. The reasons for these apparently contradictory findings are explored. The role of coaches, peers, parents and the wider sporting association ethos are investigated and suggestions made for future research.
    • Kicking ‘No Touch’ Discourses into Touch: Athletes’ Parents’ Constructions of  Appropriate Adult (Coach)-Child (Athlete) Physical Contact. Gleaves, Thomas and Lang, Melanie, Journal of Sport and Social Issues, Volume 4(3), pp.191-211, (2017). This paper reports on a study that investigates athletes’ parents’ perspectives of appropriate coach-child  athlete physical contact within youth  swimming. Parents constructed physical contact as necessary and legitimate in three specific contexts and drew on  children’s rights principles to rationalize this. This paper discusses the significance  of this and explores the benefits of  adopting child-centred coaching practices.
    • Protection of children in competitive sport, Weber, Romana, International Review for the Sociology of Sport, (March 2009). This article explores how children engaged in elite sport may suffer from health problems, lack of education and limited or no free time. Furthermore, it considers the ways through which they may be exploited by their training and competing environments and how their right to freedom of association is often limited. Adopting a human rights approach, this contribution seeks to examine national as well as international measures to protect child athletes. An analysis of existing regulation identifies shortcomings and is followed by suggestions on how to improve child protection in elite sport.
    • Safeguarding in sport. Anthony Hedges, Sport in Society, Volume 18(5), (2015). ‘Safeguarding’ is a new term, which has developed from child protection issues that resulted in UK legislation. It refers to an all-encompassing proactive approach to keeping children and vulnerable adults safe from harm or abuse. Sport leaders have both the opportunity and influence that may facilitate abuse. Therefore, all sports require robust safeguarding and safer recruitment policies and practices including the use of Criminal Record checks. 
    • Safeguarding the child athlete in sport: a review, a framework and recommendations for the IOC youth athlete development model. Mountjoy M, Rhind DJA, Tiivas A, et. al., British Journal of Sports Medicine, Volume 49(13), pp.883-886, (2015). This safeguarding model is designed to assist sport organisations in the creation of a safe sporting environment to ensure that the child athlete can flourish and reach their athletic potential through an enjoyable experience. The aim of this narrative review is to (1) present a summary of the scientific literature on the threats to children in sport; (2) introduce a framework to categorise these threats; (3) identify research gaps in the field and (4) provide safeguarding recommendations for sport organisations.
    • The Balance of Benefit and Burden? The Impact of Child Protection Legislation on Volunteers in Scottish Sports Clubs, Nichols, Geoff; Taylor, Peter,  European Sport Management Quarterly (February 2010). This paper explores the benefits and burdens experienced by volunteers in sports clubs in Scotland arising from child protection (CP) legislation. The paper concludes that the difficulties of producing accurate evidence in this sensitive area restrict the extent to which legislation can be informed by estimates of reduced risk, weighed against the increased burden on volunteers. However, if society values the voluntary sector in sport and what it provides, it will have to give this sector additional support to cope positively with the legislation and incorporate it into ‘good practice’ working with children.
    • Understanding the Use of Emotionally Abusive Coaching Practices. Ashley Stirling, International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching, Volume 8(4), (2013). The purpose of this study was to explore coaches' reflections on their previous use of emotionally abusive practices in the coach-athlete relationship. Findings are interpreted to suggest two distinct origins of emotional abuse. Additionally, based on the coaches' reflections on perceived reasons for why they no longer use emotionally abusive practices, determinants of change in coach behaviour are proposed. Applied and theoretical recommendations are discussed.

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