Safeguarding in sport is the process of protecting children and adults from harm by providing a safe space in which to play sport and be active. Safeguarding is a hot topic in the sports sector as it inevitably involves children and adults in a position of responsibility.
From a corporate and Governing body perspective, it is necessary to have the regulatory framework in place to immediately recognise potential safeguarding issues and then to have the procedures and resources to deal. All staff in your organisation should be aware of these procedures and be able to recognise safeguarding concerns should they arise.
The sports sector comprises all levels of competition from grassroots community sports to elite training programmes. There are clear opportunities for adults in a position of responsibility to take advantage of these situations. The four most common types of abuse in sport are: neglect and emotional abuse, sexual child abuse and physical abuse.
What protection is there for children in the sporting arena?
There is a responsibility and obligation on Governing Bodies and organisations to protect children in this arena. As a minimum, organisations should have an up to date safeguarding policy; monitoring and review procedure; GDPR compliance forms; codes of conduct; preventative arrangements and reporting and investigation procedure. Many governing bodies have comprehensive safeguarding guides which include guidance on changing room sharing facilities, transport to and from matches or training, managing children away from the club, outdoor sun safety code and guidance for clubs on use of social media, texts or email. The key is understanding the impact a safeguarding complaint can have an organisation and the reputational impact this can have.
The NSPCC has a dedicated website of resources for safeguarding children in sport including information for parents and carers. There is a specific child protection in sport unit and guide that has also been set up.