A picture of Dr Melanie Lang
Dr Melanie Lang © Edge Hill University

An Edge Hill academic has won a prestigious award from the International Olympic Committee to educate coaches and athletes in three countries about non-sexual abuse in sport.

Dr Melanie Lang, a senior lecturer in the Social Sciences department, has been awarded an Advanced Olympic Research Grant to take forward the project with colleagues from Australia and Canada. It will be the first education course to focus exclusively on non-sexual forms of child abuse in sport, which are the most prevalent forms of abuse in and beyond sport.

Recent headlines of emotional and physical abuse from across the sporting world have highlighted that this is a common problem faced by many athletes that has huge ramifications for their physical and mental wellbeing later in life.  

The year-long project will look at the process and outcomes of implementing an athlete- and coach-led education course in the three countries. The course seeks to help athletes and coaches better spot and tackle physical and emotional abuse and neglect.

Speaking about the importance of this work, Dr Lang said:

“Thanks to recent documentaries and news articles on the subject of physical and emotional abuse in sport, awareness of the all-too-common mistreatment of many athletes has never been higher.

“I hope this research will make it easier for children and adult athletes to recognise and report these forms of abuse when they come across it and empower coaches to take proper action to tackle it. It is through education programmes like this that we will make long-lasting transformation to ensure athletes are coached in a safe environment.”

The Child Protection and Safeguarding in Sport logo which is white writing on a purple background.

Dr Lang is the Assistant Director of Edge Hill’s Centre for Child Protection and Safeguarding in Sport (CPSS).  The CPSS works closely with various national sports and coaching organisations to provide research, advice and consultancy on their safeguarding and child protection strategies. She has delivered training and continuing professional development workshops on a range of topics relating to safeguarding and child protection in sport to sport policymakers, coaches, athletes and charitable organisations from the UK, China, Japan and Ghana.

In addition to her work for the University, Dr Lang was the national expert for the UK on the European Commission-funded project Gender-Based Violence in Sport, is currently an expert member of the pool of European Experts on Sexual Violence in Sport, the NSPCC Sport England Child Protection in Sport Unit Research Evidence and Advisory Group, and the UK Coaching Safeguarding Talented and Elite Children Expert Group.

If you are interested in studying social science or learning more about child protection, please take a look at the Edge Hill website to see the full range of social science courses available – https://www.edgehill.ac.uk/socialsciences/courses/.

A picture of footballs with students playing football in the background.