Sport has a powerful effect on children’s well-being and can promote greater physical health, emotional and mental balance, and help children develop important skills. But sport can also expose children to grievous harm and violence.
At the extreme end is the sale of athletes, especially in major sports like football. Child athletes can easily fall victim to human trafficking, sometimes for the purposes of economic or sexual exploitation.
Everyday participation in sport can also expose children to violence and harm. Instructors and coaches typically enjoy substantial impunity due to their authoritative role and the great pressure exerted on children to perform, often with the support of parents who are unaware of the exposure to harm.
The interconnectedness of sport and the sale and sexual exploitation of children is a relatively unexplored issue that deeply affects their life experiences. While Conventions and Optional Protocols provide guidance, not enough research is available to inform actions, and laws are not fully equipped to regulate what is often a lucrative business.
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