The NSPCC launches sports safety campaign supported by Bristol Sport as a new survey reveals almost a fifth of parents (17%) surveyed in the region are not ‘confident’ they could spot the signs if their child was suffering sexual, physical or emotional abuse at their local sports club.
The research carried out by YouGov on behalf of the children’s charity also found that one in eight (12%) parents surveyed in the South West were not confident they knew how to raise concerns with their child’s sports club about their child’s safety.
The NSPCC wants to ensure that all parents have the knowledge and confidence to raise safeguarding concerns. The figures are based on 81 parents of children aged 3 to 16 years old who attend sports clubs in the South West.
Furthermore, new data has revealed the number of contacts to the NSPCC Helpline from adults from across the UK with safeguarding questions or concerns about children in a sports setting has almost doubled in the last five years.
The NSPCC’s ‘Keeping Your Child Safe in Sport Week’ campaign, backed by the Football Association (The FA) and abuse survivor Sir Bradley Wiggins, launches today (Monday 3 October). It offers advice and information to empower parents to play a key role in helping to keep their children safe in sport.
The campaign aims to provide parents and carers with the right knowledge and resources so they can make confident informed decisions when raising concerns with their child’s sport club. Advice tools and supporting information are available from the NSPCC and its Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU).
A spokesperson for Bristol Sport said: “We must ensure that safety is guaranteed wherever children and young people participate in sport, which is why Bristol Sport is glad to support the NSPCC’s Keeping Your Child Safe in Sport Week.
“We would encourage parents to engage with the NSPCC’s free advice and resources so they are fully aware of how they can help keep children safe in sport. When it comes to child safeguarding, we all must play our part.”
Over the years the NSPCC Helpline have opened dedicated phonelines numbers for different sports to help support those impacted by abuse in sport. Currently a free dedicated NSPCC helpline commissioned by British Cycling has been set up in response to a number of individuals speaking out about non-recent abuse, including former professional cyclist Sir Bradley Wiggins CBE, who revealed earlier this year he had been groomed by a former coach.
Sir Bradley said: “I back the NSPCC’s Keeping Your Child Safe in Sport Week campaign which strives to prevent abuse of any kind happening to children in sport. We must make sport safe for children, and make it easier for parents, and indeed all people in sport, to recognise and understand how they themselves can support a safer sports environment.”
An adult who experienced abuse as a child in sport told an NSPCC Helpline practitioner: “The gymnastics club I went to as a child was obsessed with diets and the weight of the gymnasts. The gymnasts were weighed twice a week. If they were considered overweight or fat, their weights were written on a whiteboard for everyone to read, the gymnasts were shouted at and humiliated by the coaches. As a result of their cruelty, I developed an eating disorder.”
Ahead of the NSPCC campaign, The Football Association held its annual Play Safe weekend (1-2 October), which is also dedicated to child safeguarding.
Sue Ravenlaw, FA Head of Safeguarding, said: “We all have a part to play in keeping children safe in football, and indeed all sport, so we must ensure safeguarding and child protection is central to everything we do.
“Play Safe helps clubs and leagues to raise awareness of their safeguarding practice and, importantly this year, encourages parents and carers to complete The FA’s free bespoke course. Play Safe naturally aligns with and shows our support for the NSPCC’s Keeping Your Child Safe in Sport Week campaign.”
As well as social media support from sporting clubs and figures across the country, virtual webinars for parents to promote safeguarding in youth sport will run throughout the week, including by the Premier League and another by The Young Gamers and Gamblers Education Trust (YGAM).
Michelle North, Director of the NSPCC’s Child Protection in Sport Unit, said: “For many of us, it was playing at our local grassroots sports clubs as children where we first encountered a deep lifelong love and passion for sport. Every child and young person deserves to enjoy sport in an environment that is safe from abuse and harm and where they can play within a culture that advocates for their care and wellbeing.
“Parents and carers play a key role in keeping children safe in sport. This is why during the NSPCC’s Keeping Your Child Safe in Sport Week campaign, we want to empower parents and carers with the knowledge, information and confidence needed to uphold child safeguarding.”
For the latest news from the NSPCC’s Child Protection in Sport Unit, please follow @theCPSU on Twitter. To support the NSPCC’s Keeping Your Child Safe in Sport Week on social media, follow the campaign using #SafeInSport For more information about the campaign and to gain access to the supporting resources please visit: www.nspcc.org.uk/safeinsport