sportDr 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.

Sports Respects Your Rights Report

An initiative involving an Edge Hill academic which has empowered young Europeans against sexual abuse, has praised the involvement of the University in its end of project report.sryr6

Senior Lecturer in Sociology of Sport, Dr Mike Hartill has co-ordinated the UK’s involvement in the European Union funded Sport Respects Your Rights project since 2013. The project was set up to develop the ability of young Europeans involved in sport at a grass roots level to protect themselves against sexualised violence and gender harassment. Young people have been encouraged to work with project leaders and create their own youth-led campaigns, raising awareness and promoting social change in their sports clubs and educational institutions.

The end of project report praises the “good practice of the partners” and dedicates the report itself to “the volunteers all over Europe who, according to our data, have invested the incredible amount of more than 16.239 hours into Sport respects your rights in the past 22 months,” and goes on to say: “without you, this project would not have come to life.”

As part of the project, Edge Hill University student volunteers had the opportunity to deliver workshops for sport students and organise events to raise awareness of sexual violence, initiating the #STOP1in5 Twitter campaign.

Read the full end of project brochure here.

Sports Respects Your Rights Project celebrates empowering young people

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An initiative involving an Edge Hill University academic which has empowered young Europeans against sexual abuse, celebrated its success with an end of project conference in Vienna.

Senior Lecturer in Sociology of Sport, Dr Mike Hartill has co-ordinated the UK’s involvement in the European Union funded Sport Respects Your Rights project since 2013. The project was set up to develop the ability of young Europeans involved in sport at a grass roots level to protect themselves against sexualised violence and gender harassment. Through the project young people have been encouraged to work with project leaders and create their own youth-led campaigns, raising awareness and promoting social change in their sports clubs and educational institutions.

As part of the project, Edge Hill University student volunteers had the opportunity to deliver workshops for sport students and organise events to raise awareness of sexual violence, initiating the #STOP1in5 Twitter campaign. Student volunteers including recent Sport Studies graduates Oliver Davy-Day and Joel Donnelly, attended the end of project conference as youth ambassadors, meeting European representatives and professional athletes and feeding back on their experience of the project.

The end of project conference took place on Thursday 26th and Friday 27th February in Vienna featuring delegates from 16 different EU countries and speakers from across sport, including television personality and charity campaigner Charlie Webster, and former Spanish Olympic Gymnast, Gloria Viseras, who both spoke movingly about their own experiences of sexual abuse in a sporting environment.

Senior Lecturer in Sociology of Sport, Dr Mike Hartill said:

“The conference was a huge success and a great tribute to the hard work of all the young people involved. Representatives from 16 different EU countries attended and the quality of speakers and participants was excellent, from celebrity sports people and world leading academics to ministers of state and members of the European Parliament. They all got behind the #STOP1in5 campaign and Edge Hill can be very proud of the impact that our volunteers have made to the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse in sport.”

Duncan Craig, the CEO of Survivors Manchester also attended the conference and spoke of his experience in his most recent blog post on the Huffington post.

Duncan Craig said:

“The Sport Respect’s Your Rights UK team are standing up and making sure everyone is counted. I had the absolute honour and pleasure of getting to know some of the young men from the team, whilst in Vienna, engaging in conversations about the silence of male survivors, the impact of sexual abuse and exploitation, and listening to their thoughts and ideas was inspiring.

“Nick, Ollie, Joel, Jamie and Joe are a formidable bunch of young men, all expertly supported by Dr Mike Hartill from Edge Hill University and Rugby Football League’s Colette Eden.”

Sports Respects Your Rights was set up with funding from the European Union in 2013 to run for 24 months. The project has been facilitated by a number of organisations including a central coordinator (Agnes Kainz at SPORT UNIION Austria), eight coordinators of partner organisations, 44 local partners, and many young people at the grassroot-level.

Read the story of Dr Mike Hartill’s research here.

The Sport Respects Your Rights project has received financial support 10530873-european-union-logofrom the 10530873-european-union-logoDAPHNE 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.

Academic delivers child protection training to safeguarding managers in sport

An Edge Hill academic is helping promote children’s rights and child protection in sport by delivering an online course especially for safeguarding managers and sports coaches.

Dr Melanie Lang was asked by Sports Coach UK, the UK’s largest provider of coach education, to deliver the online Continuing Professional Development (CPD) course on coach-athlete physical contact due to her expertise in this area.

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Dr Melanie Lang

Dr Lang said: “During my research and in my previous career as an athlete and coach, I have met many coaches who have expressed concern about being accused of abuse if they touch young athletes. There is a lot of anxiety out there about what constitutes appropriate touch behaviour, and I felt it was important consider the issue from a child’s perspective, which is a new approach, to encourage child-centred coaching practice and allay coaches’ fears about being accused of abuse.

“I was pleased to be approached by Sports Coach UK to deliver this training. I’ve worked with the organisation for several years and sit on the NSPCC Child Protection in Sport Unit’s Research Evidence and Advisory Group with Mr David Turner, Sports Coach UK’s Coaching Children Lead.

“It’s rewarding to work on research that has significant external impact on organisations, trainers, coaches and young sports people.”

The training focussed on challenging some of the common myths around coach-athlete touch, promoting child-centred thinking to urge coaches to consider whether touching athletes is in the best interests of children, and educating coaches on appropriate adult-child touch guidelines. The training was based on an article entitled Touchy Subject, which has just been published in the well-respected international journal Sociology of Sport. It can be downloaded here

Melanie Lang is a sociologist and former British international youth swimmer, swimming coach and journalist. Her research centres on the policy and practice of safeguarding, child protection and children’s rights in sport and her work has featured in The Times and The Independent newspapers and on BBC Radio as well as in leading academic journals.

A new book edited by Dr Lang and another Edge Hill University academic, Dr Mike Hartill – the first to comprehensively review contemporary developments in child protection and safeguarding in sport on a global level – was published in July 2014.

Academic leads ground-breaking research against sexual abuse in sport

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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.

Read the story of Dr Mike Hartill’s research here.

The Sport Respects Your Rights project has received financial support from the 10530873-european-union-logoDAPHNE 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.

Rugby League Youth Panel quest to stop sexual and gender-based violence in and through sport

A Rugby League Youth Panel is actively campaigning to end sexual and gender based violence in sport as well as using the power of sport to highlight this problem and empower young people to keep themselves safe.

The #stop1in5 campaign has been set up by the young people (16-22 years) as part of the EU-funded project Sport Respects Your Rights (led by SPORTUNION Austria).

In collaboration with the Rugby Football League and the Lawn Tennis Association, Edge Hill University represents the UK as one of seven international project partners, led by the University’s Dr Mike Hartill who has conducted extensive research into the issue of child abuse in sport.

The project aims to develop capacity amongst young Europeans (16-22 years old) at grass roots sports level by empowering them against sexual exploitation and abuse. The young people are working together with educated leaders in their national networks to create youth-led campaigns and will become active agents of social change in their settings, encouraging peers and intermediaries to contribute to shaping a protective sports environment.

The UK young people received training in Austria from experts at the German Sports University, Cologne to learn more about the issue before disseminating their knowledge amongst their peers back in the UK.

This resulted in the Rugby League Youth Panel launching their #stop1in5 campaign earlier this year as part of the larger ‘One in Five’ campaign from the Council of Europe. Their campaign makes full use of social networking channels to communicate its powerful visual message. #stop1in5 wristbands have been produced, which the young people distributed at the recent Magic Weekend event at Manchester’s Etihad stadium. A Twitter hashtag and selfie hand signal campaign has also proved very successful (see @RLYouthPanel), with many well-known faces and sports personalities lending their support by using the hashtag or Tweeting a picture. Players Rangi Chase, Joshua Charnley, BBC Sport Presenter Tanya Arnold and Ray French MBE have all supported the campaign. Major sports agencies such as ENGSO Youth and the NSPCC’s Child Protection in Sport Unit have also been very supportive of the young people’s efforts.

All four youth campaign ambassadors are involved with Rugby League regularly and are aged between 16-22 years old. They are assisted by Colette Eden (RFL Safeguarding Manager), Alex Davidson (Salford RL Player) alongside Dr Mike Hartill.

Dr Mike Hartill, Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Sport said: “Within the department of Sport and Physical Activity we have been educating young people about abuse and child protection in sport for over a decade so it was fantastic to be invited by SPORTUNION Austria to do this on a wider scale and to share our expertise with other sports organisations throughout Europe. The RFL, the Lawn Tennis Association and the Edge Hill Students Union have all been tremendously supportive and are helping us to implement this project within the UK. The Rugby League Youth Panel was devised during a training workshop at Edge Hill and the progress they have already made has been inspiring. The hand signal campaign was the brainchild of Jamie Elkaleh and is now attracting attention and support from around Europe. It has got our campaign phase off to a great start and our teams are planning further events over the rest of the year. A key aspect of this project is that we want it to continue even after the European funding has ceased and the efforts of the Edge Hill Students’ Union president Gareth Dowling have been particularly important in this regard. Gareth is one of our team members and has been very supportive of the project since he attended a roundtable meeting in February along with other key supporting agencies such as Lancashire Police and the Child Protection in Sport Unit for England. Sexual violence is a problem that particularly effects young people. This project gives us the opportunity to educate young sportspeople about this problem but also to empower them to reach a broader group through their own creative impulses and initiatives. I hope that this will be a sustainable project that Edge Hill University can be proud of.”

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For more information about the project – which has received financial support from the DAPHNE III Programme 2011/2012 of the European Union – please see https://www.edgehill.ac.uk/sport/research/research-projects/sport-respects-rights/ or email hartillm@edgehill.ac.uk

Facebook: Sport Respects Your Rights UK
Twitter: @SportRespect

If you are an Edge Hill University student who is interested in becoming involved please contact Gareth Dowling at the Students’ Union.

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*The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of Dr Mike Hartill and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Commission.

Edge Hill supports European campaign against sexual violence

Youth to help protect against abuse in sport

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An expert on child abuse in sport from Edge Hill University has been chosen to lead a new European project to help empower young people to act and protect themselves against sexual harassment.

Dr Mike Hartill, Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Sport is spearheading the UK’s involvement in a two-year initiative to help safeguard children from sexual abuse in sport.

The idea behind the latest project is to develop capacity amongst young Europeans (16-22 years old) at grass roots sports level by empowering them against sexual exploitation and abuse. The young people will work together with educated leaders in their national networks to create youth-led campaigns and will become active agents of social change in their settings, encouraging peers and intermediaries to contribute to shaping a protective sports environment.

“This is a really unusual project because we’re actually involving young people and giving them a voice,” said Dr Hartill, “which is fantastic because previous work has sometimes failed to include input from the age group we’re actually trying to reach. Those who are selected to help deliver the project will come up with their own ideas, campaigns and drive forward key messages. Hopefully they will be able to reach out to their peers in a way that adults can’t.”

This work builds on Dr Hartill’s research and his recent collaborations with the European network and exchange of good practice, which was initiated through the EU-project Better, Safer, Stronger – Prevention of sexual and gender harassment and abuse in sports.

 

Dr Hartill has recently presented to a national inquiry by the Children’s Commissioner into sexual exploitation in gangs and groups. He said: “I’ve been working in this area of research for many years and I have always argued that sport needs to do more to protect children’s rights so, from a personal point of view, to be involved in a project of this nature is very rewarding. If we can do something positive through sport to address the issue of child sexual abuse in our society then it’s a very positive initiative for Edge Hill to be involved in.”

Dr Hartill is hoping that Edge Hill University students will be well represented amongst applicants for the principal positions to take the project forward. He said: “This project complements the undergraduate programme we have within the department, which has a strong focus on child welfare. So working on this project would provide students with invaluable experience and contribute significantly to their personal profile within an expanding area of employment.”

The project’s ultimate aim is to build supportive structures for the sporting sector regarding the prevention of sexual harassment and abuse, raising awareness on all levels of society and to give the youth-led campaigns an additional platform. They are now preparing for their first European training session, set to take place in September 2013 in Vienna.

For more information about the project – which has received financial support from the DAPHNE III Programme 2011/2012 of the European Union – and how to become involved if you’re a young person, please email hartillm@edgehill.ac.uk.

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*The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of Dr Mike Hartill and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Commission.

Child Protection in Sport Research goes Global

A leading researcher on child abuse in sport from Edge Hill University is helping to shape child protection policies in Europe to safeguard young people.

Dr Mike Hartill, Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Sport is one of 10 specialist advisors chosen to develop measures to ensure that sports organisations across Europe play a pivotal role in preventing abuse in sport.

“My aim of my research is to raise awareness of abuse and encourage sport organisations to recognise that there is a problem and that they have a responsibility to make sport safer for children,” he said.

“Only recently has it been recognised that abuse is a problem for organised sport, with a high profile case in swimming in the mid-1990s proving the catalyst for government action to address the issue. Yet, very little research has been conducted into this problem and so far studies have mostly focused on females victims.

“It is now recognised that this is also a significant problem for boys. The voices of males who have experienced sexual abuse have rarely been heard. This is something I have tried to address through my research and I’ve recently conducted research interviews with male victims of abuse in sport.”

In his research, he argues that the power relation between coach and child is a contributing factor to the silence that frequently surrounds the abuse of children.

“It correlates very closely to the Jimmy Saville case hitting the headlines at the moment. He was a celebrity with a great deal of power and influence who raised huge amounts of money for good causes. There are many similarities with charismatic coaches who have abused in sport.  Coaches are like gods to children who want to succeed in sport and young athletes feel as though they hold the keys to their success. They also have many credentials that set them apart as experts. When I’ve spoken to victims they have told me they are made to feel like they have to go along with the sexual activity in order succeed in their sport and often feel as though it is their fault – so keep silent about it.”

Dr Harthill has been invited to speak at conferences across Europe to raise awareness of the issues in light of his expertise and pioneering research around sexual abuse of boys in sport.

“The picture across Europe is very worrying,” explained Dr Hartill. “For example, in Spain where I was recently asked to speak, sport organisations have no responsibility for protecting children from abuse. The problem of childhood sexual abuse has been described as ‘an epidemic’ in the UK, yet it seems that our child protection systems and processes within sport are much more advanced than many European countries. Although we have a long way to go in the UK, it seems that Europe can learn a lot from what we have set up here already.”

He will next speak at the Safer, Better, Stronger. Prevention of Sexual Harassment and Abuse in Sports conference, which will take place in Berlin on 20th and 21st November. Aimed at key European policy makers, he will highlight Edge Hill’s ten-year collaboration with the British Rugby League, during which time he has been involved in evaluating and advising on the implementation of their child protection.

With his colleague Dr Melanie Lang, Dr Hartill will also be editing a Routledge book titled Safeguarding, child protection and abuse in sport: International perspectives in Research, Policy and Practice, due for publication in early 2014.