Sports clubs urged to put child welfare top of the agenda

Children 1st has called on sports coaches, volunteers and officials to ensure the next generation enjoy sport free from abuse.


Alison ToddThe charity's Safeguarding in Sport service has urged clubs to put child welfare top of the agenda as revelations of widespread sexual abuse in England continue to unfold.
 
Alison Todd, Chief Executive, said: “Sport can be an incredibly positive experience for children and the majority of adults involved in delivering sport are there for the right reasons.
 
“But what we’re hearing from the former players alleging abuse is that they were silenced, their football dreams threatened by their abusers. As children, they were unable to tell anyone what had happened.
 
“Sport has come a long way since then. In Scotland we’ve worked closely with governing bodies of sport to ensure the welfare of children is high on their agenda. But the fact remains that sport provides a convenient way for those seeking to harm children to have access to them, and to have ‘leverage’ over them. 
 
“So we’re urging sports coaches, volunteers and officials to have the courage to review what they have in place to keep young people safe. To ask themselves: is this the best we can do for the children we work with? Would we know what to do if a child disclosed abuse?
 
“If the answer is ‘no’ then Safeguarding in Sport can provide advice and training. And training is vital – having the knowledge and confidence to deal with difficult situations is key.”
 
The ongoing news story may also leave people wondering what to do about a particular situation with a child they know, Alison Todd added. “Maybe you have had a feeling that something is wrong, maybe they’ve become withdrawn, or won’t get changed in front of others or are suddenly not interested in the activity. Do something about it – ask after them, seek advice from us. Ultimately it’s everyone’s responsibility to look out for children.”
 
Safeguarding in Sport is a partnership between Children 1st and sportscotland and provides advice, resources and training for sports organisations. For help and advice, visit: www.safeguardinginsport.org.uk