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Safeguarding in sport:
Issues for Coaches
Sally Proudlove
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Where we started
1990s – first high profile cases in sport
Criminal convictions of Olympic and other elite sports
coaches for sexual and physical abuse of athletes
Multiple victims
Intense media attention
Reputational damage to sports bodies and loss of
sponsorship
Initial responses geared to dealing with rogue individuals
not systematic change
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Child Protection in Sport Unit
Mission:
To build the capacity of sport to
safeguard children and young
people in and through sport to
enable sport to lead the way in
keeping children safe from harm.
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Role of CPSU
Lead voice/champion/pioneer for safeguarding children
in sport
Enabler/facilitator/advisor to sports organisations
Co-ordinator/influencer promoting messages and
influencing policy
Independent expert anticipating and interpreting national
safeguarding developments
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What’s the difference between
safeguarding and child protection?
• Safeguarding refers to the actions we take to
promote the welfare of all children involved in our
clubs and activities.
• Child protection is an important element of
safeguarding for specific children who are at risk
of or are suffering significant harm.
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Coach/player relationship
• Position of trust
• Imbalance of power, for example
- playing time
- opportunities for success
- culture of the club
• Opportunity to teach, encourage and build
up
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UK High Profile Convictions
Hickson – swimming 1993
Rix – football 1999
Pratt – football 2000
Drew – swimming 2001
Pedrazzini – swimming 2001
Roebuck – cricket 2001
Griffin – karate 2001
Jones – swimming 2002
Smith – gymnastics 2004
Lloyd – tennis 2004
Fulwood – tennis 2005
Chamings – golf 2006
Clarke – swimming 2006
Lyte – tennis 2007
Phelps – diving/gymnastics 2008
Challis – trampolining 2008
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What does research tell us?
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•
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Most studies recent – 1990s onwards
Most focus on female experiences of
abuse
Most studies focus on sexual exploitation
only
Few countries have done research/quality
variable
There is a significant knowledge/practice
gap
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Risk factors
• The higher the performance level, the
greater the risk of sexual abuse in a sports
context
• Males, especially coaches, are responsible
for most sexual abuse
• Bullying/harassment by peer athletes is
greater than that by coaches
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Centre for Learning in Child Protection –
Research 2011
The experiences of children participating in
organised sport in the UK
Kate Alexander
Anne Stafford
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Headline findings
Overall, participating in organised sport Is a
positive experience for most children and young
people. However a negative sporting culture
exists, is accepted as “the norm” and is
perpetuated by peers, coaches and other adults.
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Headline findings
Young people in the study reported widespread
emotionally harmful treatment (75%)and
unacceptable levels of sexual harassment (29%).
Clothing and body image are key issues within
sport contexts particularly around puberty and
warrant further attention. Self-harm was reported
equally by both boys and girls (10%). Reports of
sexual harm featured at a low level (3%)
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Headline findings
Peers were the most common perpetrators of all
forms of harm reported in the research, with
coaches sometimes failing to challenge it
effectively. Coaches were the second most
common perpetrators of harm with their role in
harm increasing as young athletes advanced
through the competitive ranks.
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Experiences of various types of harm
All
Male
Female
Emotional harm
75%
77%
74%
Self harm
10%
9%
10%
Sexual
harassment
29%
17%
34%
Sexual harm
3%
5%
2%
Physical harm
24%
26%
23%
Total
100%
100%
100%
Total (n)
6060
1634
4426
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I mean the whole training was like, if you do
one thing wrong then suddenly like you are
being screamed at in the middle of an entire
gym whether there is five year olds in there,
or just your team in there. You are pointed
out, isolated out, whether it's sent out the
gym or just like screamed at or laughed at in
front of the entire club (Young woman:
international gymnastics).
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We had a competition in training called… we
called it juice boy basically, just a penalty
shoot-out and the loser has to wear a pretty
pink helmet the next time they go on the ice.
There was one occasion where the goalies
were told to let everybody score except this
one kid (Young man: district level icehockey, local level football).
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I didn’t like how they would grab you to show
you how to do something. I hated that.…. I
was a coach after I left school and we were
taught how to show children to do something
without touching them. And we were told
always to ask first if we wanted to touch a
child to show them something (Young
woman: district level swimming, recreational
gymnastics).
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If you were injured, you weren’t allowed to
stop. The coaches would guilt me into
continuing. They would say things like, if you
leave you’ll affect the numbers of the
sides…They’d tell me I was letting the
others down (Young woman: local level
rounders, recreational hockey).
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General messages
Sport should focus more on a children’s rights approach to
sport participation; and greater attention should be paid to
creating a positive sporting ethos where children and young
people are respected, and where their voices are heard
and used to shape sporting experience, welfare and
performance
Sport should build on what children and young people
value about sport participation. This includes the social
aspects of sport such as making friends and being part of
a team
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General messages
Sport should take steps to promote a more positive
sporting and coaching ethos, at all levels of participation
and in all sports
Sports bodies should put in place policies, procedures,
training and practice which enable sport practitioners to
systematically tackle harm occurring between peers
Sports bodies should use the findings and messages from
the research to shape an examination of the culture in their
own sport and address short-comings.
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Safeguarding our elite
athletes
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Elite Athletes
• Intense training regimes – separate
athletes from peers in time & space
• Rewards linked to compliance,
performance – highest risk at ‘stage of
imminent achievement
• At greater risk of all forms of abuse
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Safeguarding additionally vulnerable
children in sport
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Disabled Children in Sport
• 4 times more likely to suffer abuse
• Challenge of access to sport
• Coaches and sports clubs can feel
out of their depth.