Sport must put child welfare in first place, says NSPCC

The NSPCC is calling on all sports organisations to show the red card to any incidents of bullying and abuse, and ensure children and young people can play sport safely.

The NSPCC is calling on all sports organisations to show the red card to any incidents of bullying and abuse, and ensure children and young people can play sport safely.

The NSPCC is concerned that despite progress, some organisations need to do more to ensure children and young people can enjoy sport free from all forms of abuse and exploitation.

Research published by the NSPCC and theUniversityofEdinburgh Centrefor UK-wide Learning in Child Protection, underlines how ten year ago sport was failing to make safety and well being of children a priority, with very few governing bodies having child protection policies in place.

Of those who reported being physically harmed, 55% said they had been forced or coerced to train despite injury or exhaustion, and 17% had experienced violent treatment such as being hit, punched or grabbed around the neck. A substantial percentage of respondents reported self harm (10%), identifying clothing and pressure about their body image as key issues particularly around puberty.

“I really think at that age there should not have been that much pressure. I should have been a child” Quote from a young person at regional sports level

Paul Stephenson from the NSPCC’s Child Protection in Sport Unit2, said: “At the time the unit was established sport was failing to put the safety and wellbeing of children first. Today the picture is very different, thanks to the huge progress made by sports organisations in partnership with the Child Protection in Sport Unit and SportNI. Sport NI now requires all funded sports governing bodies inNorthern Ireland to have developed and introduced child protection policies and procedures.

“However, we cannot afford to be complacent. Incidents of bullying or sexual harassment still occur and everyone in sport – children and adults – must feel able to report incidents of maltreatment. Children and young people need to know they have a right to take part in sport safely and who to turn to for help if they need it.

“Listening to them is also vital particularly if they are deaf or disabled. We need sport to be far more inclusive and to encourage all children to get involved. The more they are placed at the heart of sport, the better it will be for future generations.”

Jim Grattan the IFA’s Welfare Officer said “The CPSU has been beneficial to our organisation and children in football, the Unit has been absolutely vital, not only in assisting us to put our safeguarding procedures in place, but by providing case advice when required. The IFA like many other sports organisations are now working to make sure that every child/young person has a safe and enjoyable experience in whatever sport they decide to participate in”.

Sport Northern Ireland Chief Executive Eamonn McCartan said: “Sport Northern Ireland recognises the huge strides that have been made by the NSPCC Sports Unit over the last 10 years in the area of child protection in sport. Undoubtedly the findings today indicate that there is still work to be done and Sport Northern Ireland is committed to assisting in whatever way it can.”

To find out more about the work of the NSPCC Child Protection in Sport Unit go to www.nspcc.org.uk/cpsu.

Last updated 5 years 8 months ago by Emma Stewart