Why a project on sexual harassment and abuse against children in sport?

Sexual harassment, abuse and exploitation of children are widespread violations of the rights of the child, compromise children’s social development and affect the enjoyment of their other rights. They often have devastating mental and physical health consequences, at times persisting across generations.

Nevertheless, the risk of sexual violence against children remains present in many settings, including in the field of sport. If sport makes children strong and self-confident, it also represents an area of significant vulnerability for sexual harassment and abuse. This is as a result of the close relationships and trust developed between individuals (peers, coaches, carers, etc.) when practising sport, the inherent physical contacts, and an organisational culture that often ignores, denies, fails to prevent or even tacitly accepts such problems.

Combating and preventing all forms of gender-based violence, and in particular sexual violence against children is a priority for both the European Union (EU) and the Council of Europe (CoE) from the very outset of their programmes in the field of sport. If implemented, both EU and CoE normative and policy standards can help to effectively protect children, prevent and respond to sexual and other forms of gender-based violence in sport.

However, despite these calls and efforts to create safe sporting environments, progress is still slow and fragmented. A number of member states and sport organisations still have not prepared and adopted a national policy against sexual violence in sport.

Which objectives does PSS+ pursue?

The Pro Safe Sport + project aimed at increasing the commitment of both governmental and non-governmental organisations towards sexual violence against children in sport through awareness raising tools and capacity building resources.

In the course of the project life’s time, existing materials were collected and new ones created in order to provide support to public authorities as well as other relevant stakeholder organisations (such as national sport federations, National Olympic Committees, etc.) when developing measures to tackle this issue (policies, regulations, codes of conduct, national strategies, action plans, awareness raising campaigns, etc.).