Dr Mike Hartill, a Senior Lecturer in Sociology of Sport, and Philip Prescott, a former Senior Lecturer at Edge Hill, have led research which has raised awareness of child sexual abuse in the international community and improved child safeguarding in the British Rugby Football League (RFL).
Mike’s original research was the 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. Alongside this ground-breaking research, Mike and Philip have produced studies for the RFL to help improve its approach towards child protection and safeguarding. Again, this work constituted some of the very first work in this field. Their research has identified the key challenges that the rugby league community faces in relation child protection and provided recommendations on how the RFL might improve its implementation of child protection policy.
This research has supported the RFL in meeting its national obligations in safeguarding children and a further study, funded by Edge Hill and the NSPCC Child Protection in Sport Unit, has recently been completed.
Mike’s research has also contributed significantly to the development of a European agenda for the prevention of child sexual abuse in sport and he has recently provided consultancy on this topic for a number of national and international sports agencies within Europe, including both the Council of Europe and the European Commission. He is currently leading the Edge Hill team as part of the Sport Respects Your Rights project.
The 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) recognised the impact of Dr Mike Hartill’s research, with aspects of the project assessed as having ‘outstanding impacts in terms of their reach and significance’, achieving a four-star ranking, the highest possible.
Dr Mike Hartill’s research contributed to Edge Hill University’s Sport and Physical Activity research being ranked in the top 25 in the UK for its research impact in the national Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014.