Sexual abuse in sport affects one in eight youngsters, commission finds

Sports clubs have to do much more to prevent the sexual abuse of their young members, which is far more prevalent than thought, according to a special commission set up by the Dutch sports body NOC*NSF.

The commission, led by former minister Klaas de Vries, says that one in eight children and teenagers have experienced at least one incident of unwanted sexual attention and 4% say they have been assaulted and raped.

The commission bases its conclusions on hundreds of incident reports, expert opinion and interviews with 30 victims.




In particular, the commission looked at 686 cases of sexual intimidation and abuse which were made to the sports association’s various hotlines between 2001 and 2017. That showed 60% of victims were under the age of 16 and in 70% of cases, the attacker was coach or team leader.

Most incidents took place at football clubs, followed by swimming and gymnastics clubs.

Register

The commission says sports clubs should be required by law to register all reported incidents. This would mean that incidents which are not criminal offences would have to be dealt with by the clubs themselves, rather than ignored, the commission said.

The current official blacklist of coaches includes just three names, the commission pointed out.

The NOC*NSF was prompted to launch the investigation after hundreds of footballers came forward in Britain to talk about being abused by trainers. And last December, Dutch cyclist Petra de Bruin told Nieuwsuur she had been abused by her trainer for years.