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The experiences of children participating in organised sport in the UK

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This is the report of a major three year study of children and young people’s experiences of participating in organised sport in the UK. Conducted between 2007 and 2010, the study had two elements.


  • An online survey of students (aged 18–22) in higher and further education institutions across the UK exploring their experience and retrospective views of participating in organised sport as children (aged up to 16). The survey yielded 6,124 valid responses
  • In-depth telephone interviews with young people who identified themselves in the survey as having experienced some harm in sport and who were willing to be interviewed. Eighty nine interviews were conducted.


Many children participate in sport at every level: as elite or club athletes; recreationally; as helpers – ball boys and girls, mascots; and as spectators (Sport England, 2005 ). The Football Association (FA) estimates four million children in England participate in football alone (The Football Association, 2010).

The benefits to children of participating in sport are well known and publicised (Scottish Executive, 2003). These include enhancement of self-confidence and self-esteem, physical and mental health, and wellbeing (Scottish Executive, 2003).

However, evidence also suggests that a significant minority of children participating in sport face negative and harmful experiences, ranging from minor misuse of power and bullying to sustained and systematic physical and sexual abuse of the most serious kind. Children’s negative experiences of sport was the main focus of this study.



editors comments

Editor's comments - [  The University of Edinburgh/NSPCC Centre for UK-wide Learning in Child Protection (CLiCP) carried out a three year research study of young adults' childhood experiences of emotional harm, body image, self harm, sexual harm and physical harm in organised sport.

Three published reports provide a headline summary, a longer overview and the full in-depth research findings. You should reference them as the same. ]  Reference this?Cryer, J. (Year). This page title in italics. Retrieved date, from In the text: Cryer (year)


APA reference for this document


Reference :   Alexander, K. Stafford, A. and Lewis, R. (2011). The experiences of children participating in organised sport in the UK.  London: NSPCC.


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Download this file (wdf85014.pdf)wdf85014.pdfAlexander, K. Stafford, A. and Lewis, R. (2011). The experiences of children participating in organised sport in the UK. London: NSPCC
Download this file (wdf85013_summary.pdf)wdf85013_summary.pdfSummary Report
Download this file (wdf85012_Headline findings.pdf)wdf85012_Headline findings.pdfShort headline findings
Last Updated on Sunday, 23 September 2012 15:47  

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