Child's play? Safeguarding and protecting children in sport


Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Sport is one of the world’s most popular leisure activities for children, a sphere where they can acquire physical, mental and educational skills, develop healthy habits, and build life-long friendships. In recent years, however, sport as a global institution has begun to face up to the myriad issues within its ranks that can compromise the health, safety, and integrity of athletes, and sports organisations have begun to wake up to their legal and moral responsibilities to safeguard and protect their members from maltreatment. This chapter critically discusses what the International Olympic Committee calls ‘safe sport’. To contextualise the discussion, child maltreatment is defined, examples of how it manifests in sport are provided, and the extent of the problem is highlighted. Focusing on non-sexual forms of maltreatment – the most prevalent forms – the discussion moves to safeguarding concerns in an effort to illustrate how problematic coaching behaviours and compliance to sporting norms can cross the line into maltreatment. The chapter concludes by suggesting ways coaches and other stakeholders can work to transform sport to ensure children are able to take advantage of the well-established benefits of sports participation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook of Coaching Children in Sport
EditorsRuth Jeanes, Martin Toms
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherRoutledge, London
ISBN (Print)9781032058191
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2023


  • Safeguarding
  • Sport
  • Children

Research Institutes

  • Institute for Social Responsibility

Research Centres

  • Centre for Child Protection and Safeguarding in Sport


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