How to keep your child safe in a sports club
You can make sure your child has a safe and enjoyable time in sport by checking whether the sports club has:
- a safeguarding policy
- had Disclosure and Barring Service checks on their staff or volunteers
- appropriately-trained coaches and volunteers. This should include safeguarding training or recognised qualifications from a National Governing Body
- considered how the club keeps children safe when competing in off-Island events
You should also think about how the club promotes the welfare of children, eg whether they take a register, have first aid provisions, how many children per coach etc.
Even though the club may seem professional, you shouldn’t make assumptions about the way a club is run until you have checked it yourself.
Spotting inappropriate sports club conduct
The following may alert you to inappropriate situations that may be affecting your child:
- activities where parents are discouraged from staying to watch or from becoming involved
- individuals who take charge and operate independently of organisational guidelines
- coaches / staff / volunteers showing favouritism or personally rewarding specific children
- encouragement of inappropriate physical contact
- poor communication and negative responses to questions about child safeguarding
- a “win at all costs” attitude towards the sport or activity
- children who drop out or stop going for no apparent reason
- invitations for children to spend time alone with staff or volunteers (or even to visit their home)
If you think any of the above may be happening, contact the sports organisation immediately.
What to do if your child has concerns
It‘s important to teach your child what to do if they feel they are being badly treated by someone who is supposed to be coaching or looking after them.
If they are being badly treated, they may no longer want to take part in their sport.
You should talk to them, but understand that if they are being badly treated, it may be difficult for them to open up immediately. Remember to tell them it isn’t their fault.
Your child may be upset or frightened by witnessing bad behaviour by a member of staff towards one of their friends. You can help by making sure that the matter is reported to the club's welfare officer or the Children and Families Hub on +44 (0) 1534 519000.
You can also let them know that their friend should tell an adult they trust as soon as possible. This could be:
- a parent / guardian or someone else in their family
- another member of staff or the welfare officer at the sports club
- a teacher or school counsellor
- another adult they may trust or feel comfortable with
- ChildLine: the free helpline for children and young people (0800 1111)