Category: Child protection


Crewe reject calls for inquiry into Barry Bennell sexual abuse

Victims of football coach left ‘bitterly disappointed’ after club says it will not hold investigationVictims of Barry Bennell have said they are “bitterly disappointed” after Crewe Alexandra rejected calls for an independent inquiry into child sexual a…


Barry Bennell branded ‘sheer evil’ as he is sentenced to 31 years

Judge describes former youth football coach as ‘devil incarnate’ for child sexual abuseThe former football coach Barry Bennell was branded a “monster” by one of his victims in court as he was sentenced to 31 years.The catalogue of sexual abuse revealed…


Manchester City boss calls Barry Bennell abuse scandal ‘terrible’

Manager Pep Guardiola speaks as questions remain over what club knew about former coachThe Manchester City manager, Pep Guardiola, has described the Barry Bennell child sexual abuse scandal as a “terrible, terrible situation” amid questions as to what …


Manchester City ‘ignored warnings’ and kept Barry Bennell in youth set-up

• Bennell continued scouting and coaching for City, abusing countless boys• City youth coach Steve Fleet urged club in 1970s to keep away from BennellManchester City, one of the clubs most seriously implicated in the Barry Bennell sexual abuse scandal,…


How was Larry Nassar able to abuse so many gymnasts for so long?

The biggest sexual abuse scandal in sports history shines a light on a culture of medals over moralsLarry Nassar was a wonderful doctor – everyone said so. The little girls who were sent to him were told it was an honour. Their parents were told it was…


Law to change to make sex between coaches and 16- and 17-year-olds illegal

• MP Tracey Crouch to bring sport into line with other sectors• ‘This is a much-needed step in right direction,’ says NSPCCChanges to the law are set to make it illegal for sport coaches to have sex with 16- and 17-year-old children in their care in th…


Premier League youth players targeted by Snapchat groomers posing as agents

Scale of new online menace facing young footballers revealed by pioneering project at Everton’s academy

Paedophiles are targeting Premier League youth players on Snapchat by posing as football agents and scouts in a bid to groom and entrap them.

Adam Green, head of safeguarding at Everton, said that last season young players at the club revealed they had been approached through the messaging app by men who claimed they wanted to sign or represent them.

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As a world champion athlete, I can give a voice to other child abuse victims | Patrik Sjöberg

In Britain as in my native Sweden, the extent of sexual abuse in sport is only just unfolding. The silence of recent decades must not be allowed to return

Shortly after releasing my autobiography, in which I spoke about the sexual abuse I had suffered as a child from my athletics coach Viljo Nousiainen, I gave a public reading in Sweden. Afterwards I was approached by a 93-year-old man who had been in the audience, and I will never forget what he told me. “I’m going to read the book, give one to my wife and one each to my children, and then I’m going to tell them what happened to me when I was 10 years old,” he said. “You came out with this in your book. I’ve been ashamed all my life and was ready to take it to the grave, but now I’m going to tell my family.”

It shows there are no time limits on talking about something like this, and that’s one reason why the accounts that were so bravely given by several former footballers late last year are so important in Britain. In my case, I waited 30 years to recount what had happened. Many people have been, and are, in the same situation, so it’s very encouraging to see high-profile athletes come forward and give confidence to others who have suffered similar experiences.

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Child abuse in sport and the progress made towards eradicating it

Child protection expert Celia Brackenridge says UK sport was beset by a culture of ignorance and denial until the 1990s but it now sets the gold standard

In a neatly maintained archive of papers held in the library at Brunel University, the pioneering campaigner for action to prevent sexual abuse in sport Prof Celia Brackenridge compiled a catalogue of horrific cases that came to court in the 1990s. Included in the files is a note on the Channel 4 Dispatches programme that in 1997 exposed several instances of abuse in football.

Tragically the Brackenridge archive comprises reports of convictions for serious and sustained sexual abuse across many sports at a time, so recent, when there was no dedicated child protection safeguarding, nor even basic checking of coaches for criminal records, as British sports have in place today. Some abusers who were finally convicted, usually after victims came forward years later as adults, had committed crimes for decades. Convictions in football included Jim Torbett of the Celtic boys club where Alan Brazil, later a Scotland international and now a radio presenter, was one of the victims and witnesses. There were cases of abuse, reported here and in Canada, the US, Australia and Germany, in athletics, gymnastics, sailing, karate, squash, diving and – most notoriously at the time – swimming.

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Football sex abuse scandal: how the story unfolded – video

Historical allegations of sexual abuse in football have engulfed the sport since the Guardian published details on 16 November of Andy Woodward’s experiences as a youth player. After other former players spoke publicly about having suffered abuse, more than 20 UK police forces launched investigations and the FA was prompted to conduct its own internal inquiry into the allegations. Here we look at how the story unfolded

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Eric Bristow confronted by mother of sexually abused children – video

Former world darts champion Eric Bristow has apologised for his tweets suggesting victims of child sexual abuse are wimps. In an interview with Piers Morgan on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, he eventually accepts he has caused offence. Before his apology, Bristow is confronted by Marilyn Hawes, a mother of three sexually abused children, who called him a bully

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No young footballer should have to endure sexual abuse again | Graeme Le Saux

Clubs must work with organisations such as the NSPCC to train their staff to spot warning signs and deal with them

The atmosphere of the football dressing rooms I first came into in 1987 was one constructed around macho, masculine archetypes, and designed to stop the players from showing any form of weakness. Supporting that was a strict hierarchy, with coaches at the top, and young players at the bottom – respect and obedience were crucial components.

As in all sports – and many other ways of life, I’m sure – players had to be willing to run through walls for their coaches, to carry out instructions, all in order to secure the success of the group. In such a system, it should come as no surprise that young people are vulnerable to sexual abuse, and also that they should feel unable to come forward at the time it was happening. It would not only have disrupted the hierarchy, but it would be an admission of weakness – two things that will single you out within the dressing room.

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Football abuse scandal: police warn allegations likely to spread to other sports

Police chief warns governing bodies of all sports that more alleged victims of child abuse are likely to come forward

The scandal surrounding allegations of historical child sex abuse in football could spread to other sports, a senior police officer has warned.

A significant number of other alleged victims of abuse are likely to come forward and further sporting governing bodies may report similar problems, Chief Constable Simon Bailey, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) lead for child protection, said.

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Football child abuse victim: it’s time for justice – video

Steve Walters, one of the ex-footballers who has come forward to say he was abused by he suffered by serial paedophile Barry Bennell in the 1980s, tells Victoria Derbyshire of the torment he still suffersSecond footballer reveals abuse by serial paedop…


Football child abuse victim: it’s time for justice – video

Steve Walters, one of the ex-footballers who has come forward to say he was abused by he suffered by serial paedophile Barry Bennell in the 1980s, tells Victoria Derbyshire of the torment he still suffersSecond footballer reveals abuse by serial paedop…


Adam Johnson should be jailed for up to 10 years, court told

Ex-England footballer’s offending left teenage victim with ‘severe psychological harm’ and suicidal thoughts, court hears

Adam Johnson should be jailed for up to 10 years for carrying out “calculated, considered and carefully-orchestrated” sexual activity with a child, a court has been told.

The former England footballer’s offending has left his teenage victim with “severe psychological harm” and suicidal thoughts, prosecutor Kate Blackwell QC said.

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NSPCC: football clubs not taking child protection seriously enough

FA should ensure that child protection is ‘drilled into the culture of every club in the country’, charity says

The FA should take urgent action to ensure Sunderland AFC’s handling of the Adam Johnson case is not symptomatic of a “cultural problem within football”, the NSPCC has said.

In a letter to the FA chairman, Greg Dyke, the NSPCC chief executive, Peter Saunders, raised concerns that Premier League clubs may not be taking child protection issues seriously enough.

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Adrian Peterson avoids jail with no contest plea to child abuse charge

Minnesota Vikings running back to pay $4,000 fine and serve 80 hours of community service for disciplining 4-year-old son with wooden birch Continue reading…


Paralympic weightlifter Omar Qaradhi pleads guilty to sexual assault

Qaradhi receives 12-month suspended sentence for sexually assaulting woman and two 14-year-old girls in Northern Ireland

A Paralympic weightlifter from Jordan has pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting two 14-year-old girls in Northern Ireland.

The powerlifter also pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a woman during a physiotherapy session while preparing in Northern Ireland for the London Paralympic Games in 2012.

Omar Qaradhi changed his plea from not guilty on all three counts at Antrim crown court on Tuesday.

The 33-year-old received a 12-month sentence, suspended for two years, for the assaults at a training base at the Antrim Forum in the run-up to the Games.

In two of the incidents, Qaradhi had touched the girls, both aged 14, after persuading them to have their pictures taken with him. A third incident happened during a physio session when he touched a therapist.

A doctor for the Jordanian Paralympic team told defence lawyers that Qaradhi had been born into poverty with a terrible disability. He had moved around at home with his hands and had to leave school at a young age to earn money after his father died, the doctor said.

The court was told Qaradhi was at the top of his sport and would have almost certainly won a gold medal in the London games.

The Jordanian Paralympic Committee removed him from the team following his arrest.

A defence lawyer said “a lifetime of achievement had been put at naught” because of what happened in Antrim. He said his client offered a “complete and unqualified” apology to the victims for the indignity, distress and hurt he had caused them. © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


World Cup 2014: is Brazil’s sex industry crackdown a threat to human rights?

The sanitisation of Brazil’s image before the 2014 World Cup could have serious implications for sex workers

As preparations for the World Cup accelerate, Brazilian authorities are attempting to sanitise the country’s image by clamping down on sex-related businesses.

More than 2,000 websites have been targeted, and prostitutes are being threatened with prison sentences for displaying advertisements in phone boxes.

Fuelling this campaign are concerns that the influx of football fans this summer will trigger a boom in child prostitution and sex trafficking. But, according to Thaddeus Blanchette, an anthropologist who has documented prostitution in Rio since 2004, this view is too simplistic.

Media hype, Blanchette argues, rests on the false assumption that fans will visit prostitutes and that some of them will seek out sex with children. “Underage sex goes on,” he says, “but the idea that gringos go out looking for it is a huge myth.” In Brazil, gringo generally refers to anyone from the northern hemisphere.

Tatiana Mauro, executive director of Promundo Brazil, an NGO campaigning to end violence against women, likewise believes the World Cup “will only increase the visibility of certain forms of exploitation”. She points to a report published by the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women, which finds no evidence that large sporting events cause an increase in trafficking or prostitution.

Sensationalist reporting on trafficking and mega-events is not only unfounded, it is also paving the way for a more repressive prostitution policy. During the Rio+20 Conference in June 2012, armed police officers stormed brothels in a crackdown on criminal activity. But, according to Ana, a prostitute who experienced the raids first-hand, shuttering brothels forced prostitutes to work elsewhere.

In more subtle ways, sex workers are being marginalised. Rio’s oldest prostitutes’ rights group, Davida, was recently evicted from the city’s downtown cultural district to make way for a boutique hotel.

Funding for sexual health outreach programmes has also been cut. Ana used to volunteer as a representative for the ministry of health but funding for the programme dried up last year. It was important work, she explains, because “girls just think there’s Aids and nothing else”.

In a similar episode of backtracking from the ministry, an online advertising campaign aimed at reducing social prejudice towards prostitutes was dropped after criticism from evangelical groups. The campaign, which featured photos of prostitutes with taglines such as “I’m happy being a prostitute”, was removed from the government website just two days after it went live on International Prostitutes’ Day last year.

The decision, as one sex worker rights blog highlights, “negates the rights of prostitutes to be proud of their work, to speak for themselves and to have access to the kind of health information based on citizenship principles that the Brazilian government itself has championed in the past”.

It is also expected that a proposal to separate prostitution from sexual exploitation in Brazil’s penal code will not pass – Brazilian law regards prostitution as a form of sexual exploitation. The proposal, put forward by Federal Deputy Jean Wyllys in July 2012, argues that the legitimisation of prostitution is crucial to combating the sexual exploitation of women and minors.

Sex workers’ marginality not only renders them susceptible to police corruption and violence, but also prevents them from reporting crimes. UNAids also believes prostitution laws contribute to the stigma around such work, which places sex workers at increased risk of HIV infection.

Nevertheless, fierce counterarguments and international pressure to restrict sex workers – evidenced by proposals to criminalise the purchase of sex in several European countries – make it likely that Wyllys’s proposal will be defeated.

One of the most significant obstacles in combating sexual exploitation is the fact that most anti-trafficking campaigners see prostitution and sexual exploitation as one and the same.

Sex worker rights activists, by contrast, argue that prostitution is an occupation like any other; trafficking must involve an element of coercion and/or exploitation. The label “trafficked” neither fits nor helps those who travel of their own accord to work in the sex industry: it disempowers them.

Blanchette believes the number of genuine trafficking cases in Brazil is relatively low. Even in Vila Mimosa, Rio’s infamous red-light district, he says there are few pimps “in the classical sense”, although many people benefit financially from other people’s sex work.

While the idea of someone choosing to sell sex may seem a depressing and even repulsive proposition, many do this over other options, including more exploitative forms of employment. Ana would rather work as a prostitute than as a maid in somebody’s house where “anything could happen”. For her, the decision to sell sex was neither freely chosen nor forced, but instead shaped by the realistic options she had before her.

Labelling sex workers as victims and undermining their human and constitutional rights will not bring about the change that is needed to tackle sexual exploitation, nor will it help to find the real victims of trafficking.

As Brazil steps up its image-cleansing campaign, it is important to question policies that are justified in the name of human rights and yet come at their expense.

Ana’s name has been changed to protect her identity.

Lauren Wilks is a PhD student at the University of Edinburgh and a student fellow at the Pulitzer Centre on Crisis Reporting © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds