Future generations of young sportspeople could be protected from sexual abuse following life-changing research by an Edge Hill University academic.
Senior Lecturer in Sociology of Sport, Dr Mike Hartill, has conducted research with male survivors of abuse in sport which now aims to allow survivors’ voices to be heard at the highest levels of government.
Despite several high profile cases of sexual abuse in sport in recent years, published research surrounding this topic has been relatively unexplored. Mike’s research, with the support of Survivors Manchester, will break new ground through facilitating the stories of men who were abused within a sport or PE context, allowing survivor’s voices to be heard. His research will be published in a forthcoming book by Routledge and used to create sport-based resources with the aim of influencing policymakers and the wider sporting community in their future development of sport and school-sport.
Dr Mike Hartill said:
Whilst we have had child protection policies in UK sport for over a decade, the stories of adult ‘survivors’ who were sexually abused within sport contexts have largely been unheard. This is particularly the case for male athletes.
“If we are to further develop a sports culture that is resilient to sexual exploitation and abuse of athletes, and an informed sports community with the capacity to safeguard children’s welfare, it is crucial that such stories are heard and that we learn from them.”
Mike’s ground-breaking research is also having a positive impact on student employability. On Wednesday 28th January, Edge Hill students will have the unique opportunity to present at a Sports Respects Your Rights meeting which will be attended by some of the most influential bodies in sport, including: Rugby Football League, The Lawn Tennis Association & Tennis Foundation, The Football Association (FA), Manchester City FC, Rugby Football Union, England Netball, UK Athletics, and British Gymnastics.
This opportunity follows students presenting at the NSPCC’s Child Protection in Sport Unit annual safeguarding conference. At the conference Edge Hill University students Oliver Davy-Day (Sport Studies), Stephen Mansfield (Sports Development), Laura Swaffer (Coaching), Gareth Dowling (Student Union president 2013-14) and Joel Donnelly (MRes Sport Studies), presented the project to over 50 national governing bodies. Student volunteers have also delivered workshops for sport students and organised two awareness-raising events in November in The Hub, initiating the #STOP1in5 Twitter campaign.
Stuart Haw, third year Physical Education student said:
The Sport Respects Your Rights Project was something I knew little of prior to joining the campaign, but in the year I have been involved I have found a passion in myself for the battle against sexual violence and gender harassment in sport. This new-found passion has also brought with it experiences that I would not have otherwise had, such as giving lectures, workshops and speaking at conferences. The skills I gained from these are priceless and have helped me with my studies at University too.
I feel much more employable with the skills I have gained and also have a better idea of what I want to do once I have graduated. Along with this, I have also had a great networking opportunities with relevant organisations and this has made the thought of finding a full time job less daunting.”
Dr Hartill previously conducted the world’s first investigation into the sexual abuse of male children within sport, exploring the stories of men who had been abused and showing that the culture of male-sport can often create environments that are conducive to the sexual abuse of children.
He currently leads the Edge Hill team as part of the Sport Respects Your Rights project which aims to help young Europeans at grass roots sports level by empowering them against sexual exploitation and abuse. An end of project conference will be held in Vienna in February. The Edge Hill team will be accompanied by television personality and charity campaigner Charlie Webster who will be a guest speaker, as well as Rugby League celebrity and TV presenter Terry O’Connor.
The Sport Respects Your Rights project has received financial support from the DAPHNE III Programme 2011/2012 of the European Union.
The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of Edge Hill University and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Commission.