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A New Narrative about Elite Child Athletes: Reframing Wellbeing and Abuse Prevention

December 21, 2023

Over the past few years, the discourse around elite child athletes in the US has centered on high-profile cases of abuse. The media has largely sensationalized and
individualized the issue, portraying irredeemable individual perpetrators instead of talking about the role that broader systems and institutions can and should play
in addressing and preventing abuse. These sensationalized stories about elite child athlete abuse in the media tend to reinforce the US public’s fatalistic thinking that
child abuse is unpreventable, due to an existing cultural mindset that “evil” will always exist.

The recommendations in this brief are designed to give communicators and advocates ways to communicate about elite child athlete abuse prevention and wellbeing more effectively. The recommendations presented here represent a narrative shift – from talking about abuse after it’s occurred to talking about abuse prevention and the wellbeing of elite child athletes.