One in five parents say they would not know who to turn to if they had any welfare concerns around their child at a sports club, according to new research.
YouGov conducted a survey of just over 2,000 parents on behalf of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC).
The survey results have been announced at the start of Parents In Sport Week campaign, which seeks to equip parents with the knowledge to help safeguard their child.
The campaign focuses on three key safeguarding tips for parents – finding out who the child welfare officer at their child’s club is, because every club must have one, check if the club has a safeguarding policy and to know that the NSPCC helpline is there to assist with any concerns, on 0808 800 5000 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Of the 910 parents surveyed who answered the question: “Thinking about ANY of the sports/ leisure clubs your child(ren) are currently signed up to/take part in, which ONE, if either, of the following statements BEST applies to you?”, 15 per cent replied to say ‘I wouldn’t know who to speak to if I had any worries about a child’s welfare at their club’. A further six per cent answered ‘Don’t know’.
Safeguarding in sport has been in the spotlight over the last two years, with the publication of the Sheldon report in March looking at historical abuse in English football and the ongoing Whyte Review into abuse allegations in gymnastics.
Broadcaster Charlie Webster, who spoke about the abuse she experienced aged 12 at an athletics club in a recent BBC documentary, ‘Nowhere To Run: Abused By Our Coach’, said: “I believe all children should be able to enjoy their experiences in whichever sport they choose to participate, and it’s so important that they can do so in a safe environment.
“From my own experiences, I know the impact abuse can have on a child, which is why I’m backing Parents in Sport week this year.
“Everyone has a role to play in keeping children safe in sport.”
England Women football international Steph Houghton also backed the campaign, adding: “The past year and a half has been incredibly challenging for all sports, but as clubs resume activities allowing children to continue playing the sports they love, it’s really important they can do this in the safest environment possible.
“Parents play a huge role in their child’s sport, but can sometimes be unaware of the safeguarding procedures in place at their club. This Parents in Sport Week, the NSPCC has produced some important resources for parents to access so they can spot potential concerns and know who to turn to.
“It’s important that parents have the confidence and feel empowered to report a concern if they need to – this is why I’m backing Parents in Sport Week this year.”