Sideline Bad Behaviour campaign launched
Monday 20 February 2012
Children and young people say they are often subjected to intimidating and abusive behaviour from adults as they take part in sport, leading children’s charity CHILDREN 1ST reveals today (Monday 20 February).
As they launch the Sideline Bad Behaviour campaign – highlighting the impact of poor behaviour on young players – the charity also revealed that nearly half of all young people who experienced or witnessed aggressive behaviour by spectators at sports games said the abuse continued afterwards (for example on the way to the changing rooms or in the car park).
CHILDREN 1ST conducted a survey of children and young people across Scotland involved in a wide range of sports. The survey, which focused on the behaviour of spectators at sports matches, revealed that swearing and name-calling happened frequently and, in a number of instances, the verbal abuse was threatening. It also revealed that some children under 12 reported being pushed, hit, kicked and punched with the problem of physical violence appearing to get worse for players in their late teens. Almost 20% said poor behaviour from adults affected their performance badly or made them feel like quitting.
In response the charity’s national services, Safeguarding in Sport and ParentLine Scotland, are now offering:
- advice for parents and adults worried about their own or other’s behaviour
- expert help, resources and child protection training for organisations providing activities for children
- examples of good practice to help tackle poor behaviour
- a special campaign helpline.
One eight-year-old said his game was stopped after an adult confronted the official and the two almost came to blows. He explained: “It felt scary. We were just standing there. Then they told us to go home. At training next time all they said was ‘don’t worry you won’t play that team again until you’re older’. That didn’t really sort anything.”
Young people clearly said that where incidents had occurred they were often ignored or glossed over instead of being acknowledged and dealt with.
One child was told that they were ‘a disgrace to the family’ following a game in which their team lost. And during another game two parents started fighting while their young school-aged children looked on. In the older age-group (16+) young players reported being physically assaulted by adults.
Alison Todd, Children and Family Services Director at CHILDREN 1ST said: “Young people used words like ‘intimidating, angry, and scary’ to describe the way they were spoken to by adults. There is no other situation where it would be acceptable to treat children like this but in sport it is often excused as ‘part of the game’.
“Through this campaign we’re saying that’s unacceptable. But we’re also offering solutions with advice for parents, resources and training for sports organisations and examples of good practice for people to take on board.”
Advice is just what parents asked for. In a related survey for parents a quarter said they wouldn’t know how to challenge poor conduct and nearly 40% said more needed to be done. The ParentLine Scotland service, in conjunction with Safeguarding in Sport, has now produced information and advice – including guidance on how to challenge bad behaviour.
CHILDREN 1ST is also setting up a special campaign helpline through ParentLine Scotland to handle calls from anyone concerned about poor behaviour on the sidelines of children’s sporting activities and events. The free and confidential helpline can provide information, advice and support to anyone worried about their own behaviour or the behaviour of others to help them deal with it and create more positive experiences for children and young people participating in sport. The number is 0141 418 5674.
Safeguarding in Sport, who work with a number of key sports organisations, aim to repeat the surveys in 18-24 months time to see if there has been a shift in attitudes to how children are treated in sport.
Notes to Editors
A full copy of the report can be downloaded here.
Key findings from research with children and young people:
- 43% have had direct experience of bad behaviour by spectators.
- 47% said they had witnessed bad behaviour affecting other players.
- Swearing and name calling was the most common form of bad behaviour.
- All the children who took part in interviews and/or focus groups said they felt threatened by verbal abuse they witnessed or experienced.
- Children who took part in the survey identified at least 21 separate instances when they had been subject to physical abuse, including pushing, kicking, hitting and spitting.
- A small but significant number of children under 12 said they had been kicked, hit, punched or pushed (7 incidents reported).
- 13% of participants said they had felt scared and intimidated
- One in five (19%) said the bad behaviour adversely affected their performance or made them want to quit.
- Nearly half of those young people who experienced or witnessed bad behaviour said it continued after the activity finished (e.g. on the way to the changing rooms)
- Our analysis of responses by age range found that the number of incidents involving bad behaviour, and the seriousness of the behaviour, escalates as the children be-come older.
Key findings from research with parents and carers:
- Half of all respondents confirmed that their child had mentioned poor behaviour by spectators
- 43% of parents said they had witnessed bad behaviour.
- The most commonly reported bad behaviour was swearing at children, calling them names and making fun of them.
- Just over two thirds (68%) of parents reported that someone challenged the bad be-haviour. But one in four parents (25%) said they would not know what to do to tackle bad behaviour
- 38% of parents agreed that more needs to be done to address this problem.
Quotes from children and young people:
"I've been threatened with: 'I'm going to stab you after the game'. None of the adults did anything about it."
“You get comments when you walk past parents. It’s a horrible part of the game but it’s just accepted.”
"Two mums had a go at each other. It started as a laugh but it kicked off. It was really nasty, horrible, one kid standing nearby started crying."
“I’m Scottish but my dad is from Pakistan and I get quite a lot of racist comments going on. But nobody ever seems to do anything about it – I think they’re scared to tackle it. I can’t stand it when adults laugh when another adult makes a racist remark.”
“[As I’ve got older] ... the verbal stuff gets worse too, more serious, threatening comments, like: ‘I’ll get you later, you’re marked, you’d better watch your back.’ And this is from the adults!”
“I don’t want to be bad-mouthed by the opposition when you do something good."
“If parents can’t say positive stuff then they shouldn’t come to the games.”
“My dad’s the best role model I could ask for. He was always on the touchline giving me great support and always encouraging me on – really good, really positive. He’s just an inspiration for me.”
Additional comments from children and young people can be found on pages 20-23 of the report.
Quotes from parents
"I heard one parent tell their child they were a disgrace to the family.'"
"All of the abusive ones are sadly part of the game. Coaches and parents alike are guilty of participating and encouraging this behaviour."
"I've seen two parents fight as their primary school-aged children looked on."
Sideline Bad Behaviour helpline number: 0141 418 5674
Helpline opening hours:
Saturday 12 noon–8pm
Sunday 12 noon–8pm
About CHILDREN 1ST
For over 125 years, CHILDREN 1ST has been working to build a brighter future for Scotland’s vulnerable children and families. We listen, we support and we take action by delivering services in homes and communities across Scotland. We work to safeguard children and young people, to support them within their homes and to help them recover from abuse, neglect and violence.
About Safeguarding in Sport
CHILDREN 1ST has operated a national service promoting child protection in sport since 2001, with the support and backing of sportscotland. Safeguarding in Sport provides advice, information and guidance to Scottish sports governing bodies, local authorities, coaches and club officials. The service has a national helpline and manages a series of network meetings involving professional staff and volunteers responsible for developing sport in communities throughout Scotland. It also delivers child protection training (at basic and advanced levels) through a network of accredited tutors. The website www.safeguardinginsport.org.uk has become an authoritative reference point for everyone involved in sport seeking guidance and support on safeguarding children in sport.
About ParentLine Scotland
ParentLine Scotland is a free helpline and email service, ran by CHILDREN 1ST, for anyone concerned about a child. Launched in 1999, ParentLine Scotland receives over 5,000 calls and emails every year. ParentLine Scotland can be contacted on 0800 028 2233 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Positive Coaching Scotland programme
sportscotland are delivering the national programme, Positive Coaching Scotland which is a cultural change programme aimed at key influencers in young peoples’ lives including parents. The focus should be on effort and learning rather than winning at all costs.
Last updated: Friday 24 February 2012