When we hear of the child sexual abuse that is occurring in the football industry what reaction do we have when footie is our favorite sport? On 24/11/2016 former England and Tottenham player Paul Stewart told the BBC (1) that “Hundreds” of children may have been sexually abused by figures within football.”
Mr Stewart, who says he was abused by a coach for four years as a child, said the sport could face allegations on the scale of the Jimmy Savile scandal. Stewart claims ‘”The access to children at sport level is very easy and it is the perfect ground for them to prey.”
What kind of life are abusers condemning people to here? Abuse of a child by any trusted adult leaves it’s mark in more ways than one. As an intrinsic part of the horror of the abuse, the abuser not only assaults the child in a very physical way causing severe trauma in the body, they also ensure that child will not freely trust another adult again.
It is this destruction of trust that is as devastating as the abuse itself, for the child can grow up and spend the rest of their lives closed down to trusting anyone. This is a prison for anyone to live within. Human beings are social creatures, we are built to develop relationships and trust in each other, it’s how families and communities are built. If something happens to prevent that trust building and consequential social connection, we end up living our lives in a self enforced isolation which can result in mental health problems and suicide.
The shocking fact is, child sexual abuse is not uncommon, Research indicates that up to 36% of girls and 29% of boys have been found to having suffered child sexual abuse.(2) These are the children we know about.
The Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) has said it expected the number of people coming forward who have been sexually abused to rise. Former Football Association chief executive, Mark Palios, told the BBC he was not surprised by the allegations. He said it would be “naive” to suggest abuse has not gone on within the game.” (1)
Is it really naïve to expect children to engage in sport and not be sexually abused?
Since when is trusting adults to act with integrity and honour to be defined as naïve?
What kind of industry is football that that it sets children up for a life of misery and poor mental health?
- Stewart, Paul. 24/11/16 Football sex abuse victims ‘could number hundreds’: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-38093957 Date accessed 24/11/16
- International Centre for Assault prevention: http://www.internationalcap.org/abuse_statistics.html Date accessed 24/11/16