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Protecting your child
Find out what the tell-tale signs of abuse are

As we all know child abuse is a sensitive and difficult issue.

But the unfortunate truth is it does occur within sporting settings.

Some sports have been targeted by adults who want to use positions of authority to gain access to children.

So it is very important to be aware of the dangers and to protect your child accordingly.

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) works with the UK sports councils and governing bodies to help them minimise the risk of child abuse during sporting activities.

Central to this work is the Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU), founded in 2001 as a partnership between the NSPCC and Sport England.

The unit is the first point of contact for sports organisations regarding child protection issues.

It is also responsible for issuing child protection information and organising training for sports organisations.

The basic areas you should be aware of are:

How do I deal with physical contact?

With many sports it is hard to avoid physical contact between sports staff and children.

Coaches and staff may need to instruct, encourage, protect or comfort.

It is up to you, the parent, the sports staff and the children to be aware of the guidelines on physical contact.

This is so that everyone has an understanding of what's appropriate or not.

Most sports have informal guidelines which you can get hold of on the governing body's website.

Physical contact during sport should always be intended to meet the child's needs, not the adult's.

In fact the adult should only use physical contact if their aim is to:

  • Develop sports skills or techniques
  • Treat an injury
  • Prevent an injury
  • Meet the requirements of the sport

    In view and with permission

    Physical contact should never take place out of sight of others.

    And the adult should explain to the child the reason for the physical contact.

    Unless the situation is an emergency, the adult should always ask the child for permission.

    But the contact should never involve touching genital areas, buttocks or breasts.

    Who to contact?

    If you are worried about your child being abused you should take the matter up with the club's child protection officer or a senior staff member.

    They should then contact the local social services or police.

    If there is nobody available at the club, then contact the local social services or police yourself.

    Abuse isn't just physical

    Other forms of abuse include:

  • Emotional abuse - name calling, putting children down, yelling and saying hurtful things or attacking their self-worth in general are all abusive.

  • Neglect - all sports staff must provide basic care to meet a child's needs; they must encourage and work with a child and always give them the opportunity to participate. If they fail to do these things then they are guilty of neglecting the child.

    You can find further coverage of the issues involved and answers to frequently asked questions at the CPSU website:

    Or you can contact them by phone or post:

    Child Protection in Sport Unit
    NSPCC National Training Centre
    3 Gilmour Close
    Beaumont Leys
    Leicester LE4 1EZ
    Telephone 0116 234 7278/7280

  • As a club coach I am very aware of safety, child protection, qualified coaches, insurance, first aid etc. If I went to a new club I would want to make sure that all these areas were sufficiently covered


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