Dr Melanie Lang


Melanie is a Senior Lecturer in Child Protection in Sport and Assistant Director of the Centre for Child Protection and Safeguarding in Sport (CPSS). She works closely with various national sports and coaching organisations to provide research, advice and consultancy on their safeguarding and child protection strategies, and 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.

Her work has been awarded funding from the European Commission Education, Audio-visual and Culture Executive Agency, Sport England, The Child Protection in Sport Unit, the Japanese government, and the German Sport Youth/German Olympic Committee. She was a member of the strategic core team and 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 (part of the Council of Europe and European Union Pro Safe Sport+ project), 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. She also sits on the editorial board of the Irish Journal of Sociology, and is editor of the book ‘The Routledge Handbook of Athlete Welfare’ (Routledge, due 2019), and co-editor of the books ‘Safeguarding, Child Protection and Abuse in Sport: International Perspectives in Research, Policy and Practice’ (Routledge, 2015), and ‘Bullying and the Abuse of Power’ (Inter-Disciplinary Press, 2010).


  • Child protection and safeguarding in sport and leisure (including but not limited to child sexual, physical and emotional abuse, intensive training/ early specialisation and the Long term Athlete Development model, disordered eating, coach-athlete intergenerational ‘touch’, the management of allegations of abuse)
  • Children’s rights and the social construction of childhood in sport and leisure
  • Athlete welfare policy development, implementation and evaluation
  • Gender-based violence in sport and leisure
  • Foucauldian and feminist theories

I welcome enquiries from anyone interested in undertaking postgraduate research (MRes, PhD) under my supervision on these topics.

Publications (since 2005)

Lang, M. (due 2019) Intergenerational physical contact (touch) in sport: A review of the evidence for UK Coaching. Leeds: UK Coaching.

Lang, M., Mergaert, L., Arnaut, C. & Vertommen, T. (2018). Gender-based violence in EU sport policy: Overview and recommendations. Journal of Gender-Based Violence. 2 (1), pp. 109-118.

Hartill, M. & Lang, M. (2018) Official reports of child protection and safeguarding concerns in sport and leisure settings: An analysis of English local authority data. Leisure Studies. DOI: 10.1080/02614367.2018.1497076

White, A. & Lang, M. (2018) Removing the tackle from schools’ rugby: A safeguarding perspective. British Journal of Sports Medicine. Available: http://blogs.bmj.com/bjsm/2018/03/22/removing-the-tackle-from-schools-rugby-a-safeguarding-perspective/

Gleaves, T. & Lang, M. (2017) Kicking ‘no touch’ discourses into touch: Athletes’ parents’ constructions of appropriate (adult) coach-(child) athlete physical contact. Journal of Sport and Social Issues. 41 (3), pp. 191-211.

Lang, M. & Hartill, M. (2017) Child sexual exploitation in sport: Discovery, understanding and prevention. NOTA News: The National Organisation for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers. 83, p. 9.

Mergaert, L., Arnaut, C., Vertommen, T., & Lang, M. (2016). Study on gender-based violence in sport in EU Member State countries: Results of a Study Commissioned by the European Commission Education, Audio-visual and Culture Executive Agency. Brussels: European Commission. (EU Official Journal Publication: 2015/S 242-438491)

Lang, M. & Pinder, S. (2016) Telling (Dangerous) Stories: A Narrative Account of a Youth Coaches’ Experience of an Unfounded Allegation of Child Abuse. Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health. 9 (1), pp. 99-110.

Lang, M., Rulofs, B. & Hartill, M. (2016) Child abuse in sport: From research to policy and prevention. In: Smith, A. & Green, K. (eds.) Routledge Handbook of Youth Sport. London: Routledge, pp. 505-515.

Hartill, M. & Lang, M. (2015) “I know people think I’m a complete pain in the neck”: An examination of the introduction of child protection and ‘safeguarding’ in British sport from the perspective of national governing body Safeguarding Lead Officers. In: Parton, N. (ed.) Contemporary Developments in Child Protection: Broadening Challenges in Child Protection (pp. 34-55). Basel: MDPI AG Publishing.

Lang, M. (2015) “None of the kids are allowed to eat junk at the pool: Discourses of ‘optimal’ nutrition in competitive youth swimming and the impact on athlete welfare. The International Journal of Sport and Society: Annual Review. 5, pp. 11-22.

Lang, M. (2015) Touchy subject: A Foucauldian analysis of coaches’ perceptions of adult-child touch in youth swimming. Sociology of Sport Journal. 32 (1), pp. 4-21.

Lang, M. & Hartill, M. (eds.) (2015) Safeguarding, Child Protection and Abuse in Sport: International Perspectives in Research, Policy and Practice. London: Routledge.