Interpersonal violence against children in sport in the Netherlands and Belgium

Child Abuse Negl. 2016 Jan;51:223-36. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2015.10.006. Epub 2015 Oct 26.


The current article reports on the first large-scale prevalence study on interpersonal violence against children in sport in the Netherlands and Belgium. Using a dedicated online questionnaire, 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. Being the first of its kind in the Netherlands and Belgium, our study has a sufficiently large sample taken from the general population, with a balanced gender ratio and wide variety in socio-demographic characteristics. 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.

Keywords: Child abuse; Harassment; Maltreatment; Organized sport; Prevalence; Unwanted behavior.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Belgium / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / statistics & numerical data
  • Exposure to Violence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Physical Abuse / statistics & numerical data
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sex Distribution
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult
  • Youth Sports / statistics & numerical data*