Sexual Violence and the Role of Youth Sports
Sports play a significant role in the lives of many youth and adults in the U.S. As many as 80% of youth participate in sports at some point in their childhood or adolescence, including school sports or recreational sports leagues. Participating in sports generally have positive effects on youth, fostering healthy habits, self-esteem, team-building and leadership skills, discipline, work ethic, and accountability that translate to other aspects of life. Youth who participate in sports are less likely to abuse drugs, become pregnant, or drop out of school before graduation.
In terms of sexual violence, sports present both risks and opportunities. According to research compiled by Raliance, student-athletes are more likely to perpetrate rape and be more accepting of attitudes justifying rape. Sports culture can promote beliefs related to the male entitlement, the value of dominance, and a lack of empathy. The media and entertainment unfortunately sometimes promote the damaging aspects of sports culture, and the promotion of athlete entitlement can accompany the acceptance of sexually abusive behavior among adults and youth. On the other hand, sports also offer an ideal environment in which to engage youth in conversations and education about healthy relationships, consent, bystander intervention, and accountability. Many schools, youth sports leagues, the NCAA, and professional sports teams have begun implementing such programming.
Parents, coaches, schools, and sports leagues have a responsibility to prevent sexual assault and abuse and to promote safety and respect among youth. For more information about how OAESV can help, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. For additional information about child sexual abuse, visit our webpage.
Prevention & Advocacy Resources
- Raliance Sport + Prevention Center: comprehensive national resource including data, resources, and tools for preventing sexual violence through the sports community
- U.S. Center for SafeSport: national organization offering training, resources, and consultation regarding sexual assault and abuse prevention in sports
- Coaching Boys Into Men: comprehensive resource for coaches of student-athletes, including a curriculum and coaches kit
- Inside Out Initiative: national campaign supported by the NFL to transform sports culture
- Preventing Child Sexual Abuse in Youth-Serving Organizations: policy and procedure guidebook developed by the U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
- Ohio Men’s Action Network: statewide campaign to engage men in the prevention of gender-based violence; includes information about the New Playbook training program
- Safer Schools Ohio: website with information regarding statewide prevention efforts in K-12 schools and higher education; view the training that K-12 personnel receive
- NCAA Policy on Campus Sexual Violence: outlines the NCAA’s policy on the prevention of sexual violence
- Sexual Assault of Patients by Physicians: prevention and response fact sheet published by OAESV