SAFE PLACE SAFE PLAY. BUILDING A SECURE AND SAFE ENVIRONMENT FOR SPORT is a project funded by the Department for Family Policies of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers in the public call “funding for the protection and support of juvenile victims of sexual abuse and harassment” (Line D “Prevention, protection and support for victims of violence and abuse in sport”). The professional figures working at the G. d’Annunzio University (Chieti-Pescara) are specialized both in the protection of minors who are victims of abuse and maltreatment and in the field of sports psychology. Their high level of professional competence together with the close and strong partnership with public and private territorial realities (which for years have been involved in the protection of minors and sport) has allowed the realization of this project to be developed in Abruzzo.

Project duration (18 months) Start date: 1st April 2022 End date: 30th September 2023

Aim of the project

The project aims at promoting a change in mentality regarding the exposition of minors to the different kinds of violence and abuse that can occur in the sport environment. It also intends to inform about the negative effects of violence and abuse that can affect a harmonious psychological and physical development. We will carry out a network of pilot actions for the prevention of violence against minors in the field of sports to consolidate standardized, innovative, and coherent best practices that can also function at the end of the project activities to be distributed throughout the nation.

Main activities

Creation of a regional inter-institutional network for the attention and protection
Coordinator: Professor Maria Cristina Verrocchio (UdA)

Create an inter–institutional network (G. d’Annunzio University, Associazione Focolare Maria Regina Onlus, L’Angelo custode, CONI Abruzzo, Juvenile Court of L’Aquila, Departments of Social Policy, Health, Family and Equal Opportunities of Abruzzo, Order of Psychologists of Abruzzo) to share experiences and problems. The inter–institutional network will serve to promote the culture and the responsibility to invest in projects for the protection of minors in the field of sport and to fight any form of violence and successfully prevent it.

Creation a code of ethics and conduct and a policy document on child abuse in sport.
Coordinator: Professor Maria Cristina Verrocchio (UdA)

Sharing of good practices in the field of prevention, protection, and support to victims of violence and maltreatment in sport. The expert referents of the inter–institutional network will work on the drafting of an ethical code and conduct and a policy document, with the following aims:

  • Increase the standards of safety and behavior in sports clubs and associations

  • Make explicit the shared values and sports spirit, in agreement with the requirements of the Children’s Rights Convention.

  • Developing actions directed to prevent and contrast the violence and abuse perpetrated on children in sports. Increase knowledge regarding how to identify potentially abusive conduct and procedures for reporting to the appropriate authorities.

Awareness, training, and capacity building interventions: risk factors and direct action to prevent abusive behavior in sports.

Coordinator: Professor Maurizio Bertollo (UdA)

This action is structured into three specific activities:

  • Capacity building courses for educators, managers, and sports trainers to increase awareness related to identifying various kinds of violence and the evolutionary risks to the children and adolescents’ health. Increase focus on integration and inclusion. Improve knowledge of local child protection structures and reporting procedures when abuse is suspected.

  • Specialized training courses aimed at psychologists who work in sport, to increase their knowledge about the problem of child abuse, the main models for preventing and fighting violence in sport, and the creation of prevention and support programs on the problem of violence against children.

  • Educational programs to increase awareness aimed at managers, educators/sports technicians and parents carried out in 100 sports clubs throughout the region.  They serve to: support the educational skills of adults who are closest to young athletes, increase awareness of risks and knowledge of the measures to be taken in case of suspected and/or confirmed child abuse.

Young athletes’ empowerment
Coordinator: Professor Alessandra Babore (UdA)

Psychologists and experts will conduct emotion laboratories and reflective groups with young athletes (10 – 16 years). They will be aimed at improving their ability to identify and express emotions, social competence, and active participation. Young people will be motivated to act, reflect, and protect themselves from any form of violence in sports and to share their experiences. They will be active players and participate in social change with respect to the phenomenon of violence perpetrated in sports.

Communication and spread of project actions
Coordinator: Project Coordination Centre

Creation of “educational pills”, i.e., small units of digital content with training purposes and evaluation tests that allow verifying the acquisition of knowledge by users. Develop an app with different functions for each user (parents, managers, coaches, and children). More specifically, it is planned to include this content:

  • For parents’ information about different forms of abuse and reporting procedures

  • For managers à legal and procedural aspects regarding the management of abuse reports in the sporting environment

  • For coaches à in addition to content related to the different forms of abuse, interactive activities based on the model will be included

  • For young athletes à information on different kinds of abuse, reporting procedures, and young athletes’ rights.

Final conference (accredited CME) will see the participation of all the players and recipients of the project. Active involvement of young athletes.

Monitoring and Assessment of Project Activities
Coordinator: Professor Michela Cortini (UdA)

All project actions will be monitored during the execution and assessed in terms of achievement of objectives and impact produced.