Are you a public figure?
Do you have a role in overseeing sports?
Do you run a sports club, an association,
Are you a coach, an athlete?
Do your children practice sports?
Do you care about children
and their rights?
It’s time to stop child sexual abuse in sport
It’s hard for children to talk
Adults must break the silence!
About one in five children in Europe are victims of some form of sexual violence
This includes sexual touching, rape, sexual harassment, grooming, exhibitionism, exploitation in prostitution and pornography, online sexual extortion and coercion…
Sexual abuse often leaves scars for life
BECAUSE OF ABUSE OF POWER AND TRUST
Between 70% and 85% of children know their abuser
The vast majority of children are victims of people they trust
ABUSE HAPPENS IN SPORT TOO
In sport, children can be at risk because:
a high tolerance of physical violence and injuries
authoritarian leadership and unequal power relationships between coaches and athletes
scandal avoidance: incidents are silenced
male-dominated gender ratio
physical contact is often required
inappropriate sexual behaviour is often tolerated, discrimination and gender inequality accepted
potential risk situations: changing rooms, showers, carpooling, overnight stays
It’s hard for children to talk
About 1/3 of abused children never tell anyone
Some children are not able to recognise the abuse: very young children, children with disabilities
Fear of not being believed or fear of consequences: reprisals and possible impact on family, the career, the reputation
Shame and guilt
Children do not know whom to tell
Athletes are supposed to be strong, vulnerability is considered a weakness
Confusion : some children believe being in a true "relationship"
Adults must break the silence
Sport can become an empowering and protective environment for children
It is up to adults to prevent abuse, protect children and help to fight impunity
These are athletes, coaches, opinion leaders and other individuals who COMMIT to take and promote concrete MEASURES to stop sexual abuse of children in sport
"I excel at my sport thanks to the safe and healthy environment that I have enjoyed from the beginning of my career. I know that not all children are so lucky. I will do everything at my level to have codes of conduct implemented in my sport, to minimise risks and to know how to deal with them"
Olympic silver medallist, Discus Thrower, Rio 2016
Photo credit: Stéphane Kempinaire – Kmsp
"I have become a fulfilled woman, a CEO and a caring mother who listens to her children. I wish that, if they decide to do sport, that they can do it in a healthy environment where anyone is free to speak up"
Olympic silver medallist, boxing, Rio 2016
Photo credit: Pressesports
"Sport is my life. I’m enjoying its many benefits since my early childhood. We, the athletes, have to speak up. We must fight to protect sports values and for sport grounds to remain environments where all children can develop to their full potential, regardless of their origins. I will encourage other athletes to join this cause."
Sprinter, silver medallist, European athletics championships
Photo credit : FFA (French Athletics Federation)
"At the age of 15, I was a national Champion in gymnastics and participated in the Moscow Olympics. I am a survivor of child sexual abuse in sport. It took me over 30 years to find my #voice. Today I support survivors and work to promote safe and protective sporting environments. It is the adults’ responsibility to keep children safe, healthy and happy. We must break the silence and #StartToTalk"
Athlete’s advocate for safe sport
"There is no moment as beautiful as childhood to truly live sport. Sport holds the unique power to make girls and boys dream while, at the same time, teaching them how to live life. We, the people in the world of sport, have a moral obligation to fight for this world to be always safe and comforting for all children — anywhere in the world and regardless of their background."
FIFA World Cup Winner, FIFA Legend
"A child’s love for sport is one of the most pure and beautiful feelings that exist. Since childhood, football has always been my safe haven, and this is exactly what sport practice should feel like for every boy or girl around the world. Whoever loves sport and cares about human life must be ready to stand up for child protection."
FIFA World Cup Winner, FIFA Legend
"Millions of us admire the performance of our favourite athletes. They excel at the sport that we love and they can be powerful role models. I therefore challenge Europe’s elite athletes, coaches and referees to champion children’s rights - break the silence around sexual abuse in sport! There is no shinier trophy than a happy childhood."
Secretary General of the Council of Europe
"Many children suffer abuse in their sport activities; adults must work to stop this and create safe environments. There’s no time to waste, it´s time to #StartToTalk and futsal players are committed with the cause"
Captain of the Spanish National Men Team of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF)
"Education and strict protocols are needed to identify, to prevent and to avoid sexual abuse that, in 80% of cases, is from the child’s circle of trust. Futsal players are against these actions and support #StartToTalk."
Captain of the Spanish National Women Team of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF)
"I became the victim of sexual abuse in the youth academy of Vitesse football club at the age of twelve. For twenty years I walked around with my secret, a big taboo in the sports world. I overcame a deep psychological crisis because of the abuse and now want to help other athletes and prevent abuse. That is why I founded the ‘’Break the silence Foundation’’, which is committed to prevent and tackle abuse in sports."
Director of the Break the silence Foundation Photo credit : Jiri Buller
"When I remember my youth, my sport memories are the most present and allow me to relive the happiness and innocence of those days. This is why, whether in my role as a public figure or a sportswoman, I feel compelled and have always tried to defend children’s rights and break the silence surrounding sexual abuse. Let us ensure that sport makes magic in the life of every child"
Marathon runner, 1st woman in Portugal to win a gold medal at the Olympic Games (Seoul, 1988). Bronze medallist at the 1st women’s Olympic marathon (LA, 1984)
These are governments, organisations, institutions, federations, clubs and teams who are PARTNERING with us to introduce the CHANGES needed to make sport a safe and empowering environment FOR ALL CHILDREN
"Creating a safe playing environment for children is integral to our social responsibility objectives. The tools and materials developed by the Council of Europe as part of its Start to Talk initiative are extremely valuable and will certainly complement our own measures. We are committed to cooperate with the Council of Europe to further strengthen the protection of children in sport, particularly in football."
"FIFA would like to express its support for the “Start to talk” initiative of the Council of Europe Agreement on Sport (EPAS). FIFA has a statutory commitment, elaborated in its human rights policy, to respecting all internationally recognised human rights. It is in the process of expanding its policy framework in order to address precisely the protection of children and vulnerable adults. Through concrete actions and cooperation in policy formulation between the Council of Europe and FIFA, we look forward to benefiting from each other’s experience and expertise in order to create a safer environment for the youngest and most vulnerable members of our communities."
"Oro, Plata y Bronce is dedicated to the promotion of safe sport, free from all forms of violence against athletes. We support athletes and their families and work with sport organisations and institutions to help reduce risks for children, young athletes and vulnerable adults. We are delighted to join and amplify the Council of Europe #starttotalk initiative."
"With our network of over 14 500 practitioners committed to stop child sexual exploitation and trafficking in the United-Kingdom, we are delighted to support the #starttotalk campaign. We are fully committed to raising awareness of the standards, tools and resources developed by the Council of Europe and to promote the silence breakers’ commitment across our network."
"Public authorities and sport organisations share the responsibility to prevent and respond to sexual abuse against children in sport. I trust that many governments, organisations and institutions will partner with us to unleash sport’s potential to create safe and protective environments for all children. Don’t be a spectator. Be the game changer!"
Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe
"The Government of Spain gives absolute priority to the needs and rights of children, and to the struggle to guarantee them a safe, healthy and abuse-free environment. The physical and sporting activity of our children is a vital part of their integral development. For the Ministry of Justice and the High Council for Sport of Spain, abuse stays off side #abusestaysoffside"
The Ministry of Justice and the High Council for Sport of Spain. Spanish government (Dolores Delgado, Maria José Rienda)
"Given the unique role that sport plays in the lives of children and young athletes, particularly in their education, training and personal and social development, we are committed to raise awareness, implement protective measures in sport organisations, along with the empowerment of athletes and capacity building of Athletes' Entourage to the risks related with sexual harassment and abuse in sport context"
Portuguese Institute of Sport and Youth [Instituto Português do Desporto e Juventude]
"Futsal is practiced by girls and boys since early years, at school or sport clubs and leagues, and always surrounded by adults. Make a goal playing with whoever you want, but mainly… save every uncomfortable situation for you, don´t be afraid and #StartToTalk. AJFS & AJFSF give you all the support!"
AJFS & AJFSF Association of professional futsal players (AJFS) and Association of women futsal players (AJFSF) [Asociación de Jugadores profesionales de Fútbol Sala y Asociación de Jugadoras de Fútbol Sala Femenino]
"We are deeply affected by the immense suffering of victims of sexual abuse. What they experience is very dramatic. That is why we take measures to support victims, to act decisively against perpetrators and to prevent more casualties. The #StartToTalk initiative of the Council of Europe is very helpful in this"
The Dutch Olympic Committee*Dutch Sports Federation (NOC*NSF)
"For many children and young people, sport represents a fundamental source of well-being where they find a second family. The trust and confidence normally found in a healthy environment generates an illusion of opportunity, which can lead to situations of sexual abuse. It is crucial that each of us is able to contribute to breaking the silence to ensure a protective sporting environment!"
João Paulo Rebelo
Secretary of State for youth and sports
"The Norwegian Government is strongly committed to fighting all forms of violence and sexual abuse against children. The large majority of our children and teenagers have participated in sports at some point in their childhood. We owe them to fully enjoy their rights to participate in sport in a safe environment, free from sexual violence."
Trine Skei Grande, Minister of Culture & Linda Hofstad Helleland, Minister of Children and Equality
We can help
The Council of Europe Convention on the protection of children against sexual exploitation and sexual abuse details the measures that must be taken
It protects children in 43 European states
To stop child abuse in sport,
the Council of Europe helps to:
Improve legislations and policies
Set up child safeguarding strategies for sports structures, activities and events
Develop codes of conduct
Train sports professionals: coaches, sports managers and policy makers
To know more
There are many Council of Europe tools available to help you: