Time to Re-Think Safeguarding in Sport

Where sports organisations have acted on their duty of care to safeguard participants in their sport from non-accidental harm, there has to date been a focus on implementing safeguarding policies and procedures that seek to protect children and protected adults (adults at risk) in sport.

Children are defined as young persons under 18 years of age and are protected under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child which has been adopted by 197 nations. 

Protected Adult (Adult at Risk) is a person aged 18 or over who is, or may be, in need of services by reason of mental or other disability, age or illness, and who is, or may be, unable to take care of him or herself, or unable to protect him or herself against significant harm, abuse or exploitation.

As more cases of bullying, harassment and sexual abuse of adult participants in sport come forward, sports organisations are having to re-think their approach to safeguarding.

Best practice now is to think about how we safeguard everyone in our sports organisations at all times, and not just children, young people and adults participating in the sport, but also the staff and volunteers who deliver our programmes, whom may experience inappropriate behaviour such as bullying, harassment or sexual abuse.

Some sports organisations are responding to the need to safeguard adult participants by establishing separate safeguarding policies and procedures specifically for adults participating in sport. So they might have a policy that safeguards children, another that safeguards adults at risk, another that safeguards athletes and another that safeguards the sport’s workforce both salaried and volunteer.

So do sports organisations need multiple safeguarding policies and procedures especially when many of the safeguards they contain cover common issues such as reporting systems, case management and disciplinary procedures.

Rather than duplication, perhaps sports organisations and all participants would be better served by one comprehensive policy that covers the safeguarding needs of children and all adult participants.







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