Guiding principle

The standards recommend sport organisations and public authorities to encourage awareness on the topic of abuse and violence against children in sport among the public, coaches, sport staff, volunteers, athletes (including children), parents or guardians.

It is recommended to develop awareness-raising campaigns to inform children and young athletes about their rights, the existence and complexity of abuse and violence in sport, basic information on facts and figures, as well as risk factors and impact.

Awareness-raising initiatives are essential for breaking down taboos, sharing knowledge, discussing topics, building understanding, changing attitudes, encouraging reporting and prompting action on abuse and violence against children in sport.

For example, the “Start to talk” initiative is a Council of Europe call for action to public authorities and the sport movement to stop child sexual abuse. It aimed to draw attention to the prevalence and impact of child sexual abuse in sport, mobilising governments, sports clubs, associations and federations, as well as athletes and coaches to take concrete measures to prevent and respond to abuse.


Tips from partners and experts when starting with awareness raising initiatives

  1. Clarify the target audience and tailor the awareness-raising materials accordingly.
  2. Understand and collect information about efficient approaches for delivering communications on children’s rights and violence and abuse against children in sport. Explore what makes a successful campaign and how to create effective tailored messages for the target audience drawing on research and examples of successful practices.
  3. Stay away from messages that perpetuate stereotypes, put responsibility on the child and avoid using negative, judgmental or scaremongering messages. Choose the words you use carefully.
  4. Use short and easy to understand messages that can notably be posted on social media and spread using multiple communication channels.
  5. Use daily life situations/cases that can be easily understandable and recognisable.
  6. Encourage openness and provide information on where to find support.
  7. Communicate about concrete actions that sport stakeholders can adopt and implement (e.g. information on support services, helplines, etc.).
  8. Publicise initiatives.
  9. Discuss ideas and actions within your organisation: awareness-raising is a collective responsibility!
  10. Consult with relevant stakeholders to make sure initiatives are appropriate for the target audience (e.g. athletes, children, coaches) and involve children and young athletes in the development of awareness-raising initiatives.
  11. Awareness-raising campaigns should operate in tandem with training and educational programs dedicated to coaches, sport leaders, PE teachers, volunteers, children, grassroots and high-performance athletes, parents or guardians, etc.

“Start to talk” is about adults breaking the silence and lending children a voice.

Start to talk” is a Council of Europe call for action to public authorities and the sport movement to stop child sexual abuse. By joining this call, governments, sports clubs, associations and federations, as well as athletes and coaches, pledge to take concrete measures to prevent and respond to abuse.

 More about "Start to talk"

Examples of practices and initiatives

Allowed to Care, Allowed to Intervene Guide

 Organisation responsible: Finnish Olympic Committee, Finland

 Target groups of the practice: Adults in sport, including parents, coaches, instructors, sport club leaders and others with responsibility for children and young people’s sport.

 Background: Allowed to Care, Allowed to Intervene was published in 2002 and is the first guide on sexual harassment and abuse in Finnish sport. The guide aims to address the lack of action on the problem of preventing inappropriate behaviour in sport clubs which continues to be an issue. The guide was updated 2019 with the help of the You Are Not Alone service and is used and disseminated by Finnish Olympic Committee member organisations.

 Summary: Allowed to Care, Allowed to Intervene: A Guide for Adults on Sexual Harassment and Abuse in Sport” was the first guide in Finland on the prevention and management of sexual harassment and child abuse in sport. It aims to increase stakeholders’ knowledge and understanding of sexual harassment and child abuse in sport. The guide defines sexual harassment and abuse in sport, explains the principles underpinning adult-child athlete interactions and appropriate coach-child athlete relationships and offers guidelines for individuals and sports clubs on the development of ethical sport cultures. It also provides information on the mechanisms for managing suspected sexual harassment, abuse or other unethical behaviour, and includes an educational tool for identifying and raising awareness of various forms of sexual harassment and abuse in sport.

 Timeframe: 2002 - ongoing

 More information available here

 Detailed description 

No Room for Abuse – “Kein Raum für Missbrauch”

 Organisation responsible: Independent Commissioner for Child Sex Abuse Issues of the Federal German Government, Germany

 Target groups of the practice: Personnel in charge of sports institutions and organisations, coaches, Safeguarding Officers, parents

 Background: In 2013, the Independent Commissioner for Child Sex Abuse Issues launched a campaign that aimed to convey the principles of prevention and intervention concepts to all institutions and organisations in charge of minors in Germany. The ongoing campaign has focused on sectors including sports organisations. The initiative raises awareness of child sex abuse within society and the role organisations such as sports clubs play in preventing it and creating safe environments for minors.

 Summary: The initiative is based on a network of partners including sports associations at state and federal level. Holistic prevention concepts are a unique German approach against child sex abuse and are increasingly accepted in organisations. Concepts are designed to prevent abuse from occurring and enable the provision of help for children and youth who are victims of abuse. They include a risk analysis, code of conduct, education, prevention and empowerment training for minors, collaboration with expert councillors, mandatory provision of an extended certificate of good conduct/police clearance certificate by all staff, installing a complaints officer. The campaign provided free materials explaining the core idea of prevention concepts and advises on first steps. They are aimed at key personnel in sports clubs. The objective is to implement prevention concepts in more than 90,000 German sports clubs and increasingly they have become mandatory for those who receive public funding.

 Timeframe: 2013 - ongoing

 More information available here

 Detailed description 

Time Out Against Bullying (Time-out tegen Pesten)

 Organisation responsible: Centre for Ethics in Sport (ICES), Belgium

 Target groups of the practice: Coaches, sport club managers, safeguarding officers

 Background: The Flemish policy decree on Healthy and Ethical Sports emphasises the need for healthy sports and an ethical sports climate. A learning network was set up and In 2016, a learning network was set up and bullying was agreed upon as the focus theme for that year. ICES led the development of a campaign to tackle bullying in sports. The TOP-campaign aimed to raise awareness about bullying in sport and equip sports clubs and coaches with tools to deal with bullying in their sport organisation.

 Summary: The campaign was launched with a press conference. Promotional material was made available for sports clubs and a photo contest was launched (25 sport federations participated).

Six actions were created to help sport organisations deal with bullying:

  1. Work together on a positive group climate
  2. Appoint a safeguarding officer
  3. Make and implement a code of conduct
  4. Learn to react in a good way
  5. Use our themed exercises
  6. Make everyone aware of bullying

Each of the six actions was made public via an online campaign, including a video of a professional athlete introducing the specific action. In addition, emails were sent to all sport federations, municipal sports offices and coaches.

A training programme was developed on how to react to bullying using two methods.

  1. ALKA ES which involves these steps - cool down, listening, give a chance, rounding up, evaluation and sanction.
  2. NO BLAME a seven-step plan to stop a bullying situation.

The training continues to be used.

 Timeframe: 2016-2018 (funding came to end)

 More information available here 

 Detailed description 

Guide for the prevention of sexual harassment in sport in the Czech Republic

 Organisation responsible: Czech National Olympic Committee, Czech Republic

 Target groups of the practice: Sport federations, clubs and schools

 Background: In 2006, following the first ground-breaking study on gender-based violence in sport in the Czech Republic (2002-2005), the National Olympic Committee developed a guide on the prevention of sexual harassment in sport. This guide was translated and adapted from a similar Finnish document.

 Summary: The objective of publishing of the document was to increase the level of understanding on the topic of sexual harassment in sport in the Czech Republic. It constitutes a pedagogical effort to raise awareness on a variety of real-life situations where sexual harassment and rape occur. The guide adopts the perspective of the victim, stressing that while harassment may not necessarily be perceived as such by the perpetrator, the perspective of the victim should prevail. The guide was widely disseminated to 5,000 sport federations, clubs and schools and provides all categories of sport agents with a broad definition of (sexual) harassment, illustrated through real-life situations. Awareness-raising actions have been organised by the Czech Olympic Committee throughout the country to support the guide’s dissemination.

 Timeframe: 2006 - 2016

 More information available here

 Detailed description 

How can sport safeguard children? (video)

 Organisation responsible: National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) and Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU), United Kingdom

 Target groups of the practice: All staff/volunteers of sports organisations

 Summary: This animation has been produced to help anyone involved in delivering sport or activities to children and young people.

It shows the difference between child protection and safeguarding in a sports setting and looks in more depth at how children and young people can be further protected beyond their time at training sessions.

We take a closer look at contextual safeguarding and how, by looking at where young people practice skills in their spare time, how they travel to practice or where they go afterwards, we can help to make them even safer

 More information available here

Making Noise: children and young people’s voices after sexual abuse (video)

 Organisation responsible: National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU), United Kingdom

 Summary: Making Noise puts the focus on children and young people’s voices for positive change after sexual abuse. It is a project produced by The International Centre, University of Bedfordshire, in collaboration with the NSPCC. The Office of the Children’s Commissioner commissioned the original report.

 More information available here

My magic sports kit (video)

 Organisation responsible: National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) and Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU), United Kingdom

 Target groups of the practice: Parents

 Summary: This video shows several children involved in different sports describing how the behaviour of parents and spectators deteriorates when they wear their ‘magic sports kit’ – that is, when they compete.

The young people talk about a range of bad adult behaviours and how these negatively affect them. They then describe and promote positive behaviour.

 More information available here

Parents in Sport Week (campaign)

 Organisation responsible: National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) and Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU), United Kingdom

 Target groups of the practice: Parents, coaches, sport leaders, clubs

 Summary: In October each year, we run our Parents in Sport Week campaign. This campaign aims to help parents understand their role in their child's sport.

 More information available here

Preventing child sexual abuse (video)

 Organisation responsible: National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), United Kingdom

 Target groups of the practice: Parents, carers, coaches

 Summary: This animation includes practical simple steps for people to follow in order to make children safer.

 More information available here

Prevention of children sexual abuse in sport

 Organisation responsible: Social Affairs Ministry and Sport Ministry Andorra Government, Andorra

 Target groups of the practice: Coaches, staff, sport leaders, children, young athletes, parents and sport federations

 Background: Andorra signed and ratified Lanzarote convention in 2014.
In 2018, the Start to Talk campaign encouraged both ministries (social affairs and sport) to begin a new project to prevent children sexual abuse in sport.

 Summary: In 2018, we organised a conference on the sexual abuse of children in sport. This was led by different associations Fundació Vicki Bernadet (Spain), Consultoria d’Infància Espirales (Spain) and Colosse aux pieds d’argile (France). It targeted local politicians, sport federations, athletes and parents - over 100 people participated. Since 2020, we have been informing coaches and sport federation staff about the prevention of sexual abuse against children. In 2020, we informed 50 coaches and our goal is to inform 100 more.

The information programme is as follows:

  • 16 hours of online lessons (Moodle)
  • 4 hours of video or face-to-face courses depending on the COVID 19 restrictions.
  • The participants receive a certificate if they pass online lessons test and attend the course.

Our objective is to be included in Start to Talk campaign through actions 1 and 3 (prevent and inform parents, children, public and sport federations through publicity campaign / information for sport federations).

 Timeframe: Since 2018 (we don’t have end date because we want to implant programmes over the long term to inform all the principal actors of sport federations)

Prevention of violence through sports in schools

 Organisation responsible: Ministry of Tourism and Sport, Croatia

 Target groups of the practice: Young athletes, children, coaches, parents

 Background: The Ministry of Tourism and Sport in co-operation with relevant bodies and associations implements several educational measures in the fight against violence in sport. The aim is to prevent all unacceptable forms of behaviour and raise awareness with children and young people about values in sport such as positive cheering without aggression on sport field.

 Summary: In co-operation with Ministry of the Interior - Republic of Croatia, Police Directorate, Croatian Football Association, Croatian School Sports Federation and the Education Agency an Action Plan for the implementation of educational measures in the fight against violence in sport, sport competitions and beyond was developed and presented to heads of county expert councils for prevention programmes and physical and health culture during 2008.

In 2018, with regard to the prevention of all unacceptable forms of behaviour in sport, the Ministry of Tourism and Sports (Central State Office for Sports) developed a visual identity for a prevention campaign in the fight against violence in sport that was visible and accepted by the public to achieve the set goals.

In 2019, as part of the European Sports Week we organised a "School Day" in Zagreb attended by primary school children where we promoted the importance of engaging in physical activities and preventing violence through sport in schools.

In addition, a promotional video was created and distributed to all county school sports federations and their members.

 More information available here and here

Sexual Harassment and Abuse in Sport (SHA) Video Series

 Organisation responsible: International Olympic Committee (IOC)

 Target groups of the practice: Athletes, athletes’ entourage members, sport organisations

 Summary: This video series begins with an introduction explaining the meaning of harassment and abuse in sport. It continues with nine scenario-based videos presenting first person experiences of different forms of harassment and abuse in sport. The final section highlights steps to be taken as an athlete, coach or sport organisation to help prevent cases of harassment and abuse as well as create a safe sporting environment or all.
Videos are in English, with subtitles available in French, German, Russian, Spanish, and Chinese.

 Timeframe: Ongoing

 More information available here

Underwear rule – Keeping deaf children safe from abuse (video)

 Organisation responsible: National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU), United Kingdom

 Target groups of the practice: Parents/carers, children

 Summary: Talk PANTS helps children understand that their body belongs to them, and they should tell someone they trust if anything makes them feel upset or worried.
This version of the Underwear Rule specifically aimed at deaf children and young people.

 More information available here