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Interpersonal Violence Against Children in Sport in the Netherlands and Belgium

The article reports on the first large-scale prevalence study on interpersonal violence against children in sport in the Netherlands and Belgium.

 In the research a dedicated online questionnaire has been used, over 4,000 adults prescreened on having participated in organized sport before the age of 18 were surveyed with respect to their experiences with childhood psychological, physical, and sexual violence while playing sports.

 Importantly, as being the first of its kind in the Netherlands and Belgium, this study has a sufficiently large sample taken from the general population, with a balanced gender ratio and wide variety in socio-demographic characteristics.

 After analyzing gathered data, this study demonstrates that violence against children truly is a problem in Dutch and Flemish sports, warranting attention, as it does elsewhere. The notion that psychological, physical and sexual violence affects at least one child in every sports team, is unacceptable, while the elevated prevalence in young disabled, LGB, ethnic minority, and elite athletes urges us to devote careful consideration to these groups in future research, policies, and, above all, practice. The survey showed that 38% of all respondents reported experiences with psychological violence, 11% with physical violence, and 14% with sexual violence. Ethnic minority, lesbian/gay/bisexual (LGB) and disabled athletes, and those competing at the international level report significantly more experiences of interpersonal violence in sport. The results are consistent with rates obtained outside sport, underscoring the need for more research on interventions and systematic follow-ups, to minimize these negative experiences in youth sport.


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