Child protection vetting doesn't put off sporting volunteers
Tuesday 19 August 2008
Volunteers who help out at their local sports club and potential volunteers are not being put off by the growing legislative demands around child protection, a new report has revealed.
The Sport Industry Research Centre1 interviewed almost a thousand current, past and potential sports volunteers, of whom an overwhelming 90% said they believed child protection measures are essential.
The report, which was commissioned by CHILDREN 1ST, sportscotland and the Scottish Sports Association (SSA), also found that the majority of coaches and other adult volunteers (75%) believe criminal convictions checks (disclosure checks) are necessary.
The checks help remove unsuitable volunteers
The overwhelming majority of sports club volunteers and members feel that disclosure checks boost parents' confidence and play an important part in ensuring children's safety. More than half (60%) also said that the checks helped to remove unsuitable volunteers.
Sports clubs across Scotland find it difficult to recruit enough volunteers, but the research findings challenge the idea that this is due to increasing legislative requirements around child protection.
The majority of potential volunteers cited not having enough time, the demands of paid employment or feeling they lacked skills and/or experience as being the main deterrents to volunteering.
The report's findings are in contrast to a recent report by Scotland's Commissioner for Children and Young People, which found that 48% of members of the public interviewed said they would be put off from volunteering by the threat of false accusations. This may imply that sport is seen as a less threatening environment in which to volunteer.
More support is needed
Although many clubs received information from sources like their governing body or the national Child Protection in Sport Service, it's clear that more support is needed, particularly as further legislation comes into force next year.
The report also showed that only 55% of clubs in Scotland currently have a written child protection code of conduct, and there are concerns that volunteers are often recruited on the basis of a clean disclosure check rather than being assessed on their overall suitability to work with children and young people.
Kathleen McInulty, manager of the Child Protection in Sport Service, run jointly by sportscotland and CHILDREN 1ST, said: "The findings reveal that most adults can see how various measures like disclosure checks or child protection policies play a real part in keeping children safe."
"Sport is something that children and adults can enjoy together, and we are delighted that adults are not being put off from a really rewarding activity."
1The Sport Industry Research Centre is based at Sheffield Hallam University.
Last updated: Saturday 11 April 2009