Sporting environments provide contexts in which a range of abuses of children has occurred. While there is an increasing awareness of the need to improve child protection in sport, the extent to which listening to children’s voices can support this has yet to be explored. This paper reports on research commissioned by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children’s Child Protection in Sport Unit to understand the way in which the expression of children’s voices is facilitated in sport. Thirty‐four national governing bodies of sport in the UK responded to an electronic questionnaire exploring expression of children’s voices in their organisations. Findings indicate that challenges concern: children’s perceived lack of interest; confidence in self‐expression; time, resources and logistics; organisational culture and attitudinal change. ‘Good practice’ was identified in: formal structural communications; tailoring contributions to interests and strengths; use of primary research; and sharing ideas remotely. The projected value of listening to children’s voices includes understanding children’s perspectives and identification of potential concerns. The expression of children’s voices is of value to national governing bodies in sport and there is potential for this to prevent elements of abuse in sport.
Key Practitioner Messages
National governing bodies of sport believe that the expression of children’s voices in sport can positively inform child protection practice.
Material and cultural limitations can prevent the expression of children’s voices.
There is potential for an embedded expression of children’s voices that could support intervention prior to abuse occurring.