REPORTS ON ABUSE & NEGLECT OF ATHLETES
Child USA Sports Abuse and Neglect Reports
Five Key Findings of the Elite Athlete Survey
By: Marci A. Hamilton, Esq., CEO
Carter E. Timon, MBDS, Lead Social Science Researcher
Child Sexual Abuse of Elite Athletes: Prevalence, Perceptions, and Mental Health
Despite a series of high-profile media reports of sexual abuse in sport over the past few years, little research has been done to explore the scope of the problem in the United States. The current article reports on prevalence of child sexual assault in elite athletes in the United States. Using a retrospective web survey, adults answered questions on their experiences in sport. Of the 473 elite athletes surveyed, 3.8% (n = 18) reported being sexual assaulted as a minor in the sporting context. Of those reporting assault, most (61%) reported being abused by an adult authority figure (usually a coach) and 44% reported being assaulted by a peer. Abused athletes were significantly more likely to report having been diagnosed with a mental disorder (Fisher’s exact test; p < .001). The findings can be utilized to improve prevention and child protection measures and other safeguarding initiatives in sport.