Statement on Hearts FC decision
Monday 27 June 2011
Statement on Hearts FC decision in relation to Craig Thomson.
Anne Houston, Chief Executive at CHILDREN 1ST said: "Everything that CHILDREN 1ST does and says is underpinned by our concern for children's welfare. In all spheres of life, children have the right to be protected and for their interests to come first. We know how difficult it is for children who have been abused to come forward, for fear that they will not be believed or their disclosure will not be taken seriously. That is why it's incumbent on everyone - including football clubs and authorities - to take the strongest possible stance on child sexual abuse and to do all that they can to minimise the risks for children. We would urge Hearts football club to consider the implications for children and young people in this situation: we are sure that the club and very many of their fans agree that their primary responsibility here is to protect children.
In recent years, CHILDREN 1ST has worked closely with sports governing bodies, including the SFA, to help them train volunteer coaches on keeping children safe and allowing them to have fun in sport. Attitudes have shifted hugely and we know that child protection is now taken much more seriously and practice has improved considerably.
But professional sports organisations also have responsibilities in this area. Everyone at a football club who has contact with children and young people should be trained on child protection procedures and our Safeguarding in Sport initiative would be happy to talk to the SPL and individual clubs about what we can do to help them in that regard.
We must use this particular instance to send a clear message to children that they have the right to be happy and healthy, safe and secure in everything that they do. We all have a responsibility to make that happen. Not taking action to protect children from the risk of sexual harm is unacceptable. Allowing convicted sex offenders to continue working where they will have direct and indirect contact with children goes against the purpose of the Sex Offenders Register, the intention of which is to provide additional protection for Scotland's children and young people. There is no place in our society for public role models who have been convicted of sexual offences against children, no matter what other talents they might have. We are sure that everyone in football, and particularly the SFA, who are the primary governing body in Scottish football, would agree."
Safeguarding in Sport is a partnership between CHILDREN 1ST and sportscotland, supported by the Scottish Government. We provide advice, consultancy and training on the development and implementation of child protection policies and procedures to any sports organisation working with children and young people.
Last updated: Wednesday 20 July 2011