Child Sexual Exploitation in Sport: How the Coronavirus crisis has impacted on safety
The Covid 19 pandemic has raised concerns about children's safety during the enforced lockdown period. Significant anxieties have been raised by many agencies about the amount of online abuse that has occurred during this period and as children prepare to return to both school and their sporting activities it is important that all who work with children are aware of the sometimes subtle signs that children may have been exploited during the lockdown, there is now a significant risk that contact abuse may occur as the lockdown regulations are eased and that perpetrators may take advantage of children returning to their activities.
Sports coaches need to be aware of this and be prepared to support children who may be victims of criminal activities both on and offline.
Kev Murphy, Safeguarding in Sport Lead for NWG has written this advice:
"Sport has to be alert to the possibility that, when children return to their chosen sporting activities, they may disclose some form of abuse that may have been perpetrated by a parent, a friend or someone they met online, or you may discover, through different sources, of things that may have occurred in households during these stressful times.
"A distinct possibility is that a child may disclose abuse by someone you know very well, a coach or a volunteer at your club perhaps. This may shock you and you may find it hard to believe as the person may be a lifelong friend and you could never imagine that they may harm a child, however, be warned, we are living in very stressful toxic times and our experiences from the past informs us to expect the worst. Schools are preparing for a return to education and Designated Safeguarding Leads (DSLs) will be preparing for an influx of concerns about children, local authority social care teams are also preparing for the potential increase in referrals, it has been reported that nationally that child protection referrals have reduced by 75% during the lockdown period, this highlights the importance of agencies such as schools, Police , public health and the sports community who regularly refer children to children’s social care for support.
"Sport must also be prepared to support children on their return. Now is the time for DSO’s and Club Welfare Officers to familiarise themselves with local reporting procedures and know what support is available should it be required, either from NGBs, Active Partnership safeguarding leads or other safeguarding partners. Do you know how to escalate a concern formally if you feel you are not being listened to and also do you know where to access support for yourself!
"Mark Spitz; 7-time winner of gold medals at the 1972 Olympics, once said, “if you fail to prepare, you’re preparing to fail”, so let’s all start thinking beyond lockdown and start preparing for the recommencement of sport so that young people are safeguarded and able to participate safely."
Child Sexual Exploitation in Sport course - in partnership with Sport England
To help coaches identify and understand how exploitation can occur Sport England has funded EduCare to develop a sports specific safeguarding course that will help sports coaches identify safeguarding concerns and take the appropriate action to safeguard children. The course is easily accessible, and the cost has been reduced to ensure it is widely available to all sports coaches who work in community sports and may not be supported by National Governing Bodies. So please do take advantage of this unique course that is also CPD certified and help raise awareness of how we can all help to keep children safe in sport