Touchy Subject: A Foucauldian Analysis of Coaches’ Perceptions of Adult-Child Touch in Youth Swimming

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Abstract

It has been suggested that child safety discourses are creating an environment in which safety from abuse defines every act of adult-child touch as suspicious, resulting in adults who work with children being positioned as ‘risky’ and child-related settings becoming no-touch zones. Research on the impact of these discourses on coaches is limited and there have been few attempts to theorize coaches’ behaviours to better understand how child safety concerns impact on their practice. Focusing on coaches’ avoidance of child touch, this paper uses a Foucauldian perspective to explore coaches’ embodied disciplinary and emancipatory responses to child protection discourses in competitive youth swimming. It also discusses the implications of coaches’ apprehension about child touch on swimming practice and young athletes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4-21
JournalSociology of Sport Journal
Volume32
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2015

Keywords

  • Child protection
  • child abuse
  • adult-child touch
  • Foucault
  • moral panic
  • youth swimming

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