The politics of safeguarding and protecting children in sport in England: A history of the present

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The last 20 years has seen one of the biggest transformations of the UK sport policy landscape for children ever witnessed. In just these two decades, sport has gone from being on the periphery of legislation and policy on child welfare to a key institution with legal and moral responsibility for safeguarding and protecting children in the UK. This shift is, in large part, the result of political and social changes in how children’s welfare has been conceptualised, managed and operationalised, which has included developments in ideas about how the state thinks about children and what happens to them, its relationship with children, and how it constructs the responsibilities of professionals working with children (Parton, 2014). As eminent child welfare scholar Nigel Parton (2014) argues, analysing historical and contemporary developments in child welfare legislation and policy, along with critical appraisal of resultant developments in practice, can provide crucial insights into the relationship between policy-making and practice and help us make sense of the current context. In recognition of this, this chapter traces the incorporation and development of child welfare initiatives in sport and explores the ideologies and the key events behind these developments. The aim is to provide a “history of the present” (Skehill, 2007, p. 449) so as to, to paraphrase Skehill (2007, pp. 452-454), problematise the contemporary nature and form of child welfare in sport in the present by recourse to its past. 

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Palgrave Handbook of Sport, Politics and Harm
EditorsStephen Wagg, Allyson Pollock
Place of PublicationPalagrave Macmillan
Number of pages203
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-72826-7
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-72825-0
Publication statusPublished - 16 Dec 2021


  • safeguarding
  • policy
  • child abuse
  • youth sport
  • child protection

Research Centres

  • Centre for Child Protection and Safeguarding in Sport


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