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"We have to assume a big dimension." Child abuse also exists in popular sports

Physical and emotional pain, begun and discontinued therapies and again nightmares and panic attacks. Concomitants that characterize biographies of victims of abuse – even in sports. The findings on sexual violence in the field of sport alarm: More than a third of the athletes is affected. This was the result of the "Safe Sport" study conducted by the University of Ulm and the Sport University of Cologne for organized competitive sport in November 2016. Comparable research projects for leisure and mass sports have so far been lacking.

Last Monday, the Independent Child Sex Abuse Commission launched the call "Your Story Can Change Something." People exposed to sexual violence during their childhood or adolescence may contact the Commission to share their experiences in confidential hearings or written reports. "The Commission wants to gather more important information to help protect children and young people in the future," the 6 May press release said.

Training camps and competitions, body contacts for assistance or injuries – in sports, there are many opportunities for sexual assault. Reports of child abuse in various sports in recent years suggest that "we have to assume a major dimension," Commission Chair Sabine Andresen fears jw-Conversation. Parallels to the situation in the churches became apparent. In grassroots sports are mainly volunteers. Under general suspicion Andresen does not want to put the honorary office. A gateway for perpetrators, but it is well. Volunteers and helpers have easier access to children and adolescents than in other social areas.

The feelings of guilt and shame of those affected, the fear that no one believes in them, and the fear of having to stop exercising prevent victims from acting against perpetrators. A problem in the system. Sports scientist Meike Schröer said on 5 May that Germany radio"We in sports are the ones who have to solve this." For this, the sport needs independent help from outside and people in the associations who take responsibility. Guides, orientation aids and results reports – all this has been developed by the umbrella organization, the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB), describes Ulrike Spitz, Head of Media and Public Relations at DOSB jw, »It is most important for us to establish a culture of looking in a lasting process.«

And sports policy? Monika Lazar, sports policy spokeswoman for the Bundestag faction Alliance 90 / The Greens, says jw– Inquiry: »Politicians are required to support sport in measures to prevent sexual violence.« Especially in mass sports, a study is important to be able to work out recommendations for action. Lazar also demands: "On the ground, countries and local authorities must promote the expansion of specialized counseling centers against sexual violence and ensure their funding." "Prevention in sport is very important," says Andresen. That's not enough. "We want to work out which structures in the past have led to abuse being made possible or promoted." And how it has been dealt with in sports institutions and associations so far.

Fact is for Andresen: Sexual child abuse in sport is still very much taboo. All the more she hopes that those affected will trust the work of the Commission. "And have the courage to contact us."

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