This review was commissioned by the Child Abuse Programme (CAP) of Oak Foundation, a large international philanthropic organisation. It forms part of CAP’s effort to win societal rejection of practices such as the sexual exploitation of children and adolescents around major sporting events (MSEs), and to embed prevention and protection from exploitation as a permanent concern for global sports-related bodies.
This review is intended to inform action in countries that host MSEs and to provide some suggestions on how hosting countries can avoid past pitfalls and mistakes in relation to child exploitation, especially economic and sexual exploitation. Importantly, it also acts as a call to action by those responsible for commissioning and staging MSEs, such as FIFA and the IOC, to anticipate, prepare for and adopt risk mitigation strategies and interventions. Positive leadership from these culturally powerful bodies could prove decisive in shifting hearts, minds and actions in the direction of improved safety for children.
A number of headline findings emerged from this review that might assist those developing risk mitigation work at future MSEs.
- First, we know that there are significant risks to children around major sporting events.
- Secondly, we have no data to determine whether, how and to what extent those risks translate into harm.
- Thirdly, most attention is given to trafficking and sexual exploitation when labour and displacement are probably bigger problems.
- Fourthly, we pay little attention to the impact on children of being “collateral damage” to the injustices visited on the adults around them.
- Finally, we should not assume that no data = no problem.
Neither absence of data nor moral panics, however, are excuses for inaction. Risks to children are clearly evident in the context of MSEs, so there is a need to mitigate these risks, to prevent and to respond to harm.
The project Children Win follows up on Prof. Celia Brackenridge’s report and existing experience of Mega Sporting Events within Terre des Hommes.