Over the past decade, the University of Southern Denmark has been involved in a number of European partnership projects relating to child protection, sexualized violence and elite athlete safety.
The current project is founded on the ongoing efforts and existing networks between researchers, sport NGOs and child protection agencies.
The VOICE project allows the network to expand the international ties and collaboration to include a wider audience of athletes and sport governing bodies. The involvement in VOICE is also an opportunity for sharing and developing knowledge across the European research and sporting community.
In a national and international perspective the joint European work is expected to yield new insights into a highly sensitive and important topic. The issue of child sexual harassment and abuse in organized sport surfaced in 1997, but became a real topic in Denmark around 1998-2000 when increased documentation of the phenomenon grew from both research and media attention relating to a number sexual abuse cases in and outside of sport.
A TV-documentary in 2000 illustrated just how easy it was for sex offenders with a criminal record to gain access to children in sport. This prompted further action. Between 2000 and 2005 case handling procedures and legislation gradually developed to help Danish sport organizations deal with the problem.
The three national sport organizations in Denmark and the University of Southern Denmark strongly supports the ongoing focus on the prevention and handling procedures relating to sexual violence and discrimination in sport. The VOICE project is expected to provide increased awareness and understanding among a wider audience of sport practitioners as well as in society at large.
Jan Toftegaard Støckel
Associate Professor, Department of Sports Science and Clinical Biomechanics