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Transgressive behaviour

Safe Sport Allies

Protecting children from violence and abuse in local sports clubs

The many stories of violence against young athletes show that signs of incidents of harassment and abuse are often overlooked or bystanders decide not to act. Therefore, the Safe Sport Allies project aims to provide useful insights into developing, implementing and evaluating an intervention programme to encourage positive bystander behaviour.


From until

Supported by

European Union

View the project website

Safe Sport Allies 

Safe Sport Allies is a partnership (Erasmus+ funding) between two sports organisations, four research institutes, an international child protection agency, a developer of safe sports practices and an organisation for and by victims from different European countries (Belgium, the Netherlands, Finland, Spain, Cyprus and Romania). The different organisations have complementary backgrounds, traditions, experience and expertise in protection policies in and outside sport. The focus of the project is to address transgressive behaviour in local sports clubs by developing, implementing and testing bystander interventions tailored for athletes, trainers, parents and club administrators.

The objectives of the project are the following

  • To develop a bystander intervention to improve children’s safety in grassroots sport clubs, including (1) an education programme for athletes, coaches and parents, and (2) a policy development and implementation trajectory for local sport managers. The intervention aims to increase knowledge and awareness of interpersonal violence in sport and stimulate positive attitudes and beliefs about prosocial bystanding by all stakeholders.
  • To compose a test battery for monitoring and evaluating the sports club safety and the bystander culture, including a policy self-scan, children’s voices, coaches, parents and managers’ opinions and actions.
  • To longitudinally measure the effectiveness of such intervention by analyzing quantitative and qualitative monitoring and evaluation data.
  • To disseminate the findings, intervention protocol and policy roadmap in order to stimulate and support other European sport stakeholders in implementing effective prevention interventions

Prevalence rates of harassment and abuse in sport cannot be ignored and prevention measures are needed to tackle this. Although applaudable efforts are being made by several sport governing bodies and sport organisations, the journey of developing, implementing and evaluating sport safeguarding policies has only just started, and the evidence on effective prevention and response is urgently required but currently almost non-existent. The current project is one of the first to start building scientific evidence for preventive safeguarding strategies.

Safe Sport Allies Toolbox 

Discover the wide range of tools here



Tine Vertommen

Tine Vertommen (PhD) is research coordinator of Safeguarding Sport & Society  in the People and Well-being research group. As a criminologist she conducts research on the prevalence and prevention of harassment and abuse in sports. 


Karolien Adriaens

Karolien Adriaens (PhD) is a researcher in the People and Well-being research group, research line Safeguarding Sport & Society.  As a clinical psychologist she is working on  research projects on harassment and abuse in sports and child maltreatment


Helena Verhelle

Helena Verhelle is a researcher in the research group People and Well-being, research line Safeguarding Sport & Society. She focusses on the prevalence and prevention of harassment and abuse in sports and higher eduction. 


Related research lines