Today at the Beyond Sport Summit in Johannesburg the international safeguarding children in sport working group will launch a set of safeguards designed to make sport safer for children.
British Paralympian swimmer Ellie Simmonds OBE supports the safeguards.
"I began swimming when I was five years old, so sport has been part of my life since I was very young. I remember being inspired by watching the 2004 Athens Paralympic Games and so it was a dream come true for me when just four years later I won gold medals at the Beijing Olympics. I strongly believe that all children should have the chance to take part in a way that helps them to benefit from sport while being keep safe at the same time" says Simmonds.
Olympic track cyclist Victoria Pendleton CBE, who also supports the Safeguards, said "I started cycling about the same time I started to walk, as a result of my father being a keen cyclist. Sport was an important part of my own childhood and I believe children the world over have the right to take part in sporting activities that have a positive effect in their life. I welcome the newly launched International Safeguards which will help to keep children safe both here in the UK and around the world.”
Overall the Safeguards aim to:
- help create a safe sporting environment for children wherever they participate and at whatever level
- provide guidance to sports providers so they can ensure organisations they work with know how to protect children
- promote good practice for sporting organisations to follow and challenge practice that is harmful to children
- provide clarity on safeguarding children so all those involved in sport know how to keep children safe.
Liz Twyford, UNICEF UK Sports Programme Specialist said: "All children have the right to participate in sport in a safe and enjoyable environment; it is a crucial part of a happy, healthy childhood. UNICEF UK is one of a number of organisations that has worked on trialling these standards with sporting organisations so we can be confident that they will enable everyone involved in sport to stop and think about the risks to children and have appropriate measures in place to prevent abuse".
"Staff and volunteers who provide sports activities can end up being a real lifeline for children, which is why is it essential that all sports organisations have safeguarding measures in place and most importantly a team of people on board that feel enabled to take action and do so willingly.
"These new safeguards set out the key steps that every organisation can take, right from the recruitment stage to developing policies and procedures to ensure children’s safety, well-being and protection across all sports" said Anne Tiivas, Director, NSPCC Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU).
Amanda Dlamini, South Africa National Soccer Player and Jockey South Africa ambassador will launch the Safeguards at the Beyond Sport Summit.
Amanda said "I very much welcome the safeguards to make sport safer. I know how the power of sport can improve lives but also what the horrible impact can be when things go wrong. The more organisations can do to make sport safe the greater the world of sport will be. Participating in sport should be a positive, empowering experience. We all need to embrace the safeguards and make sport safe for children."
The working group is made up of a panel of experts in the fields of sport, child protection, security, education and sports medicine.
Millions of children and young people take part in sporting activities every day across the world. For some children this is purely for recreation, for others a chosen career and for some a path out of poverty. But it is increasingly recognised that too often children taking part in sporting activities are not properly protected from harm, leading to incidences of abuse and harm.
Pioneers of the Safeguards include:
- International Netball Federation (INF)
- International Sailing Federation (ISAF)
- Lao Rugby Federation
- Manchester City FC
- Manchester United FC
- Special Olympics
- USA Swimming
- US Olympic Committee