SPORT can be a fantastic unifier, bringing people together with a love of their team, their sport and ideally by mutual respect.
It can also be a fantastic way to help children build confidence and forge friendships while having fun and potentially training for a future career. But not every experience at a sport or activity club is a positive one.
A new survey by YouGov and the NSPCC found that a quarter of parents whose children took part in in sports or activity clubs had experienced inappropriate behaviour – such as shouting abuse and insults, threatening behaviour or violence – at events. More than two thirds said they or their children were left feeling uncomfortable or upset by this behaviour, and 20per cent of adults said no action was taken to stop the behaviour.
The NSPCC’s Child Protection in Sport Unit this week launches its annual Keeping Your Child Safe in Sport Week. This year’s campaign focuses on positive behaviour from the sidelines, encouraging parents and carers to consider the impact their behaviour has on young players and their enjoyment of their sport or club. It also encourages parents to get involved in their children’s clubs and show positive support.
Clubs of all tiers are supporting the NSPCC’s campaign to encourage positive behaviour, including Team GB skateboarder Sky Brown, Premier League teams including Liverpool FC, Championship team Leeds United and former international footballer and pundit Alan Shearer. It’s important for parents to get involved in their child’s sport, be supportive, and help keep children safe. This year’s campaign includes a video, My No 1 Fan, which explores how behaviour on the sidelines affects young sportspeople. It features interviews with families on about what positive parental behaviour means and how negative behaviour can impact children’s enjoyment of sport.
Children enjoy sport the most when parents are engaged in what they do, whether it’s showing an interest in the game, post-game support or occasional cheerleading. As well as this film, the NSPCC’s CPSU hosts resources and information on the Parents’ Hub, including a free e-learning course for parents on keeping children safer in sport.
The Football Association recently ran its Play Safe campaign highlighting the importance of safeguarding in the sport. Led by The FA, the Play Safe campaign is fully endorsed by the NSPCC. We believe the safeguarding of children in all aspects of life is vitally important. Visit thecpsu.org.uk/parents