Abuse-Free Sport Research Symposium 2022 

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In 2021-2022, ten knowledge syntheses were funded through the Abuse-Free Sport Research Grant Program on ten themes identified by an expert working group. Following the completion of those knowledge syntheses, the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada (SDRCC) held its first Abuse-Free Sport Research Symposium on Saturday, October 15, 2022, at the University of Toronto. The event was another step in the right direction in promoting safe sport in Canada.

In attendance were all recipients of the 2021-2022 grant, their collaborators, members of the SDRCC Research Working Group and Athlete Advisory Committee, as well as SDRCC staff and board members. Bringing together a group of individuals with diverse expertise and background has proved to be a success, as rich discussions took place to inform the Abuse-Free Sport program and its current and future initiatives.

“Maltreatment in sport is a complex issue that would greatly benefit from interdisciplinary
approaches and solutions. It was encouraging to bring together perspectives from different
research disciplines including clinical psychology, legal studies, medicine, sport management,
indigenous studies, athlete welfare, communication, and child and sport psychology.”

– Katie Misener, Ph.D., University of Waterloo


Through these knowledge syntheses and engaging discussions held during the symposium, researchers formulated recommendations that will inform future policies, practices and research.

Implications for Policy:

  • Enhance the communication of policies:
    - Clear, consistent terminology in policies;
    - Standardized definitions for forms of prohibited behaviours to promote shared understanding and accountability; and
    - Policies disseminated in a way that is accessible and user-friendly.
  • Create a hub for governance support with resources adapted for all levels of sport.

Implications for Practice:

  • Host education sessions for sport leaders at all levels;
  • Provide education regarding risk and protective factors;
  • Engage athletes in all aspects of the Abuse-Free Sport program;
  • Develop, monitor and evaluate victim/survivor support programs;
  • Provide early education and promote awareness to identify prohibited behaviours; and
  • Ensure complaint and reporting platforms can easily be found.

Implications for Research:

  • Apply an intersectional lens to understand marginalized groups when it comes to their experience with safe sport;
  • Adopt an interdisciplinary approach to draw knowledge from other disciplines and fields, and adapt it to the sport context;
  • Take an overall approach that is collaborative, in order to have a meaningful impact at all levels of the sport community;
  • Have a better understanding of the barriers to report; and
  • Promote the voice of youth participants to enhance the understanding of safe sport through the lens of children.

All discussions held and recommendations formulated at the Symposium will be taken into consideration in the development of future priorities for the research grant program.