Study: Child abuse in sport: education is often hindered

According to a study, only very few cases of sexual violence and abuse of children and young people are uncovered and processed in sport.

Study: Child abuse in sport: education is often hindered

According to a study, only very few cases of sexual violence and abuse of children and young people are uncovered and processed in sport.

Instead, those affected often experience that their experiences are negated, trivialized and veiled, as emerges from an investigation commissioned by the Independent Commission for the Study of Child Sexual Abuse, which was presented in Berlin. The descriptions are harrowing, said Bettina Rulofs, the lead author of the study. "Most of the reports deal with serious physical sexual assaults and rapes by adults against children and young people in sports, taking advantage of a relationship of care or dependency," said the sports sociologist.

Male-dominated hierarchies

Since 2016, the commission has been investigating the extent, type and consequences of sexualized violence against children and young people in the Federal Republic of Germany and the GDR. The study is based on 72 reports from victims and witnesses. It is the first detailed analysis of such a large number of incidents in sport.

Especially in organized sport, the structures contribute to making clarification and processing more difficult. This includes the fixation on sporting success, the dependence on volunteers and the great power imbalance between athletes and coaches. Male-dominated hierarchies in clubs and associations are also a factor. The positive image of sport in society also contributes to the fact that many of those affected are not heard because they break through this positive narrative.

It would need independent contact points for those affected, it said. The planned Center for Safe Sport, which the Association of Athletes Germany had suggested last year, was also highlighted. Organized sport must also contribute to its financing, demanded Heiner Keupp, a member of the review commission.

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