Participant information

Thank you for your interest in the Adverse Childhood Experiences in Sport study. This project investigates experiences of childhood harm and maltreatment among competitive athletes in the UK.

What is the purpose of the research?

It is well known that playing sport has many benefits, however the maltreatment and abuse of young athletes continues to be a major concern. Understanding the size and nature of the problem is vital for prevention efforts and to improve safeguarding for children in the future.

The UK does not have current data on the scale and character of negative experiences in competitive and high-level sport. This research aims to fill that gap in our knowledge by investigating experiences of childhood harm (physical, emotional, sexual and neglect) experienced by competitive athletes.

Who are the partners in the research?

The research is funded and supported by Sport England and is being carried out by Edge Hill University Centre for Child Protection and Safeguarding in Sport (CPSS) and Evaluation and Policy Analysis Unit (EPA). Twenty-five National Sports Governing bodies (NGBs) are also partners in the research.

Why are you asking me to take part?

You have been approached because your NGB is a project partner and has agreed to distribute this invitation to all their registered or affiliated athletes who are 18 years or above.

I haven’t had any negative experiences. Do you still want me to participate?

Yes please! In this survey we ask questions about negative experiences in sport. You may not have experienced these, but we still kindly ask you to complete the questionnaire as this helps us to understand how widespread these experiences are. The more invited athletes respond to the questionnaire, the more meaningful the findings will be. Please answer as accurately as you are able. Please do not forward the link to anyone else.

How long will the survey take to complete?

On average, the survey takes approximately 15 minutes to complete. For some people it may take longer. If you have had many negative experiences in sport, it will take you longer to work through the questions. Please note that you can stop and save the questionnaire to complete later. We are very grateful for your time and effort and appreciate this may be a difficult process for some.

Do I have to take part? What if I choose not to?

Participation is entirely voluntary. Even if you start the survey you are under no obligation to answer any of the questions and you can stop at any time.

Is it anonymous?

Yes. Your participation is entirely anonymous and your answers cannot be connected to you. Please note this also means that your data cannot be removed once submitted, as it cannot be identified. Neither the research team nor your NGB will know who has taken part.

What will the research be used for?

The combined results will be used in research reports and similar publications to help guide the development of better safeguarding in sport. Combined data will also be supplied to participating NGBs. These results will not allow the NGBs or any other person to identify who has taken part, either directly or indirectly.

How will you protect my personal information?

All information collected through this survey will be treated in confidence and in line with GDPR (Data protection) rules. Data will be used only for the purpose it was given, stored safely, and not disclosed to any other person unlawfully.

To see how we use your data please see

What if I find the research distressing?

This research concerns sensitive and upsetting matters such as child abuse. For some, including those who have personal experience of harm or abuse, this may prompt distressing memories. As participation in the research is anonymous, we will not be able to provide direct support to participants.

If you need to talk to someone in confidence about issues that may arise from completing the survey, details of support services are available by clicking on the link at the bottom of each page within the survey. These are also available through a link in your invitation email, should you want to access them after completing the survey.

What happens if I tell you about serious abuse or harm?

We do not ask for information that would identify you or any other individual. However, if such information is given which may reasonably lead to the prevention of harm or detection of a crime, the research team would be obligated to pass that information to the appropriate investigative authorities.

If you wish to talk to someone in confidence about any abuse, affecting you or another person, there is a link to support services at the end of each page in the survey, in your invitation email, and here:

If you have questions or concerns that are not addressed here, you can contact the research principal investigator Professor Mike Hartill at [email protected] or the safeguarding officer of your national governing body.  If you would like to speak to someone at Edge Hill who is independent from the project, please contact Professor Tom Cockburn (Head of Social Sciences) at [email protected].