Sexual Abuse in Football

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By Hayley Smith
on 09 December, 2016

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The Impact of Sexual Abuse in Football

Safeguarding is the action that is taken to promote the welfare of children and protect them from harm.

Organisations that work with children have a duty to ensure that these young people are protected from harm. By adopting clear policies and following established procedures, organisations can take steps to ensure children are kept safe from those who may pose a threat or risk.

The widespread media coverage about the failure of the FA and its clubs to properly safeguard children, continues to gain momentum as more and more footballers speak out about sexual abuse at the hands of trusted adults. The sport is now facing allegations on a larger scale than the Jimmy Saville scandal.

Sue Ravenlaw, the FA's Head of Equality and Safeguarding has released a statement saying that the FA takes all matters of safeguarding and child protection seriously and she urges anyone who may have experienced or is experiencing abuse in football to report this immediately.

NSPCC Helpline Launched

On 23 November 2016 the NSPCC launched a dedicated helpline supported by the FA which received over 800 calls in its first week of operation. Staffed by independent, experienced practitioners, the helpline offers support and guidance for those who have experienced childhood sexual abuse.

The NSPCC reports that historically boys have been less likely to speak up about sexual abuse with new figures showing they are more than five times less likely to contact ChildLine about sexual abuse than girls.

The NSPCC and its partner agencies are working to overcome traditionally masculine views, and recognise that young boys can find it hard to talk about issues of sexuality or abuse.

To contact the NSPCC's confidential 24 hour helpline call 0808 800 5000 or contact ChildLine on 0800 1111.

Safeguarding training

The current position faced by the FA highlights the urgent need for all schools, settings, clubs and organisations working with children and young people to adopt a culture of vigilance and an ‘it could happen here’ approach.

This means developing robust safeguarding and child protection policies which are regularly reviewed and informed by practice under the guidance of a trained, Designated Safeguarding Officer. Additionally, relevant checks should be carried before employing staff or volunteers.

Organisations must ensure safeguarding and child protection training is in place for all staff and children should be empowered to speak out about anything that concerns them. This should include knowing who they can talk to, and having confidence that any allegation made will be taken seriously.

For further information and support, book onto our Safeguarding Conference or contact the One Education Safeguarding team on 0844 967 1111.

References and further reading:

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