There have been several high-profile acocunts in the media in recent years suggesting that child protection regulations position adults as ‘risky’ to children and as ‘at risk’ of being accused of abuse. This in turn, some argue, creates an environment in which safety from abuse supposedly defines every act of adult-child touch as suspicious, resulting in child-related settings becoming ‘no-touch zones’.
Adult-Child Touch in Sport
In fact, research on the impact of understandings of child protection on youth sports coaches is limited and what few studies have been conducted tend to simply describe coaches’ actions without explanation other than to point the finger of blame at supposedly ‘restrictive’ child protection regulations.
Drawing on observations of swimming coaches’ practice and interviews with these coaches, this study explored the real extent of sports coaches’ concern about adult-child touch and offers a theoretical explanation of this. The aim is that, in doing this, everyone involved in sport can find a way to establish a practical balance between enabling coaches to have confidence in their behaviour but, importantly, while still putting the safety and protection of child athletes at the centre of their practice.