Safe to play campaign

We are supporting the NWG and Sport England’s Safe to Play campaign and ask our partners to join us.

The campaign raises awareness of tackling child sexual exploitation (CSE) in sport, so that children and adults can enjoy physical activity safe from harm and abuse.

We’re encouraging parents, coaches and children to know the signs that something isn’t right and have the confidence to report it.

Say Something if you See Something

The Safe to Play campaign provides advice and helps parents and guardians to make informed decisions around activity clubs and sports facilities here in West Yorkshire and to look out for signs that a sports club or activity club may not be as legitimate as it seems. 

Activities and clubs can be advertised as a place to take your child but may not be affiliated to any sport governing body or active partnership. 

  • It is important to look for a club, sport, activity, and coach that takes the safety and wellbeing of your child seriously.

  • Always check whether the club or organisation is accredited or otherwise affiliated to an official body (e.g. a sports governing body or national voluntary sector) as this should mean they have the right safeguarding policies and procedures in place.

It’s important for parents/ carers to check that any sports club or activity that your child attends has your child’s safety as its priority. Even if the club seems professional, there are questions that you should ask to make sure that they have all the necessary safeguarding measures in place.

1. Can I see your safeguarding policy?

A good organisation will have robust and up-to-date policies & procedures in place. They will be able to provide you with information on what to do if your child has any concerns. Established codes of conducts will be in place for coaches, volunteers and young people. .

2. Who is your welfare officer?

The club will have a designated Welfare Officer, who may also be present to answer any questions you may have. This is the person responsible for putting into place procedures and dealing with any concerns.

3. Do you follow safer recruitment procedures?

Every organisation providing sporting activities to young people must ensure they have the correct recruitment processes in place which includes interviews, references and have undertaken the appropriate police checks for their volunteers and staff.

4. How do you promote the welfare of children and young people?

Enquire about how the organisation promotes the welfare of children and young people. This will include: first aid provision; taking registers at beginning and end of sessions; ratios of staff/volunteers to young people; appropriate transport arrangements if required; and how they listen and respond to the views of young people.

5. Do you have guidance on texting/ social media etc?

A good club will have open communication with children & young people and their parents or carers. They should have in place guidelines on the use of text messaging and social media and the appropriate language that all their staff and volunteers should adhere to. Parents and carers should be kept well informed of club activities.

Even though safeguarding principles are the same across all sports; each sport has their own policies and procedures which cover matters such as staffing ratios and physical contact guidelines. These are specific for their clubs and coaches to help them provide a safe environment for their sport. You should seek this specific information from the governing body.

What else should you look out for?

  • Activities where parents or carers are discouraged from watching the sessions or becoming involved.
  • Behaviour or activities that encourage rough play, sexual innuendo or humiliating punishments.
  • Individuals who take charge and operate independently to organisational guidelines.
  • Individuals who show favouritism or personally reward specific young people.
  • Encouragement of inappropriate physical contact.
  • Poor communication and negative responses to questions about safeguards for your child.
  • 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 visit their home).
  • Text messages or internet communication direct to young people and does not include parents or carers.

Don’t be afraid to question

A good and professional organisation will already have procedures in place and will welcome the chance to demonstrate that they are providing a safe environment for your child.

What should you do if you are concerned?

You may feel reluctant to raise a concern and worried about the impact it may have on your child and other people attending the club, but if you are concerned you must take action:

  • Listen to your child and ask them questions about the activities they are involved in.
  • Speak to other parents and carers.
  • Speak to the Welfare Officer or lead person in charge of the sessions.
  • If you are not confident that they are the most appropriate person, speak to someone in a higher position in the organisation.
  • If the response you receive is not appropriate, or you are still concerned, please contact one of the organisations below.

West Yorkshire Sport 0330 20 20 280

Child Protection in Sport Unit

If you have any serious concerns about the safety of a child, do not delay and call the NSPCC Child Protection Helpline 0808 800 5000

If you are concerned about a child in Leeds call 0113 222 4403 (Mon – Fri, 9am – 5pm) 0113 2409536 (out of hours emergency number)

All the above information is also contained in the Safeguarding in Sports for parents and carers leaflet. To request a copy please email the LSCP Business Unit

Here are some of the signs of child sexual exploitation:

  • Have they become unusually secretive or withdrawn?
  • Sudden changes in appearance and behaviour
  • Becoming anxious or fearful, feigning injuries. Loss of confidence or low self-esteem
  • Being given gifts, including alcohol and drugs
  • Coaches or volunteers using inappropriate sexualised, abusive or threatening language
  • Coaches giving a child special attention eg offering one to one coaching
  • Coaches offering personal advice or being over friendly

If someone is in immediate danger always call 999.

See the Safe to Play campaign website for more information and the campaign videos.

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