Guest Blogger: Mike Hartill
Duncan has given me the honour of being the first Survivors Manchester blog of 2015 and I am really pleased to be able to talk about a really important subject for me.
At the end of February the Sport Respects Your Rights conference was held in Vienna. This was an opportunity for the youth volunteers to display the campaigns they had developed in their own countries. The programme of speakers included a range of politicians, policy-makers and academics from across Europe who were impressed by the work the young volunteers had produced over the past year.
The Edge Hill team were represented by Nick Ashley, Joel Donnelly, Joe Moore, Oliver Davy-Day and Jamie Elkaleh. As always they were supported by Colette Eden, the Child Welfare Manager at the Rugby Football League. It was fantastic to have Duncan with us (read his review of the event in the Huffington Post) and we were also supported by TV sports commentators Charlie Webster and (ex-professional) Terry O’Connor who were both very enthusiastic about the project our young volunteers had delivered.
The #STOP1in5 campaign produced by the UK team and devised by Jamie Elkaleh (Swinton Lions & Rugby League Youth Council) was particularly prominent and had been adopted by the organisers to promote the conference. The accompanying report detailing the campaigns produced can be found here. For more information on the Council of Europe’s ONE in FIVE campaign see their website.
The European funding has now come to an end, however, the team of young volunteers is continuing to grow and to campaign against sexual violence within sport settings. Just this week three of our volunteers, Stuart Haw, Laura Swaffer and Stephen Mansfield have delivered awareness-raising workshops to over 40 Sport Science students at Edge Hill. Last week our #STOP1in5 hand-signal campaign contributed significantly towards the National Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day, with the help of Survivors Manchester and some of the cast from Hollyoaks! Check out our Twitter (@SportRespect) or Facebook (Sport Respects Your Rights UK) accounts for further updates and if you’d like to get involved please do get in touch.
Underpinning this outreach and campaigning work is an ongoing programme of research which has focused on the sexual exploitation and abuse of male children and young people in sport. This short animation gives an overview of this research activity. However, it is vital that research in this area continues to grow. We still know very little about the experiences of male survivors of child sexual exploitation and abuse in sports and PE settings.
Consequently what we know about the sports environment, as well as what we know about child sexual abuse, is also limited. There is a hidden history of exploitation and abuse in sport and a great many voices and stories have not been heard, indeed, they have been silenced.
The aim of my research is to enable the telling of such stories. Prevention must be based on sound knowledge and evidence. In order to raise awareness about the sexual exploitation and abuse of boys and young men in sport – and to develop initiatives, campaigns and resources to prevent it – the telling of such stories is vital.
I am now seeking adult men who are willing to contribute to a research study. If you think you may be interested in participating, please contact Survivors Manchester on firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss further. Alternatively you can contact me directly at SportResearch@edgehill.ac.uk. There is also a Factsheet with more detailed information. It would be great to hear from you!