Today, I attended the 'Working together to safeguard and protect children and young people in sport.' hosted by With Scotland.
Overall, this was a very interesting and thought provoking conference. I have outlined my notes throughout and will quote the various presenters as the information was really valuable to help us keep young people safe, and the things we can do to create the best environment for young people
The figures are quite significant and I feel that it’s our duty within our field to work to improve these figures, and ensure we have the right people working with children. The main thing that came out of it is EDUCATION. We need to educate the coaches, parents etc, on what is right and
wrong and probably most importantly, that we educate the young people to distinguish what is right and wrong behaviour from both peers and coaches to ensure that it does not have a detrimental effect. We first and foremost have to be role models in the way we communicate this. Hopefully you are able to take something out of the information throughout this blog to ensure best practice and safety of the young people and children we work with. And not only for adults, but for the young people and how you can work best with your peers.
Shona Robinson, the minister for commonwealth games and sport in summary said, "Protect young people, challenge inequalities, participate without abuse, clubs ensure safety. Inspirational people keep children in sport but some people do not keep safe. Keep children safe because they are the future and most vulnerable. Children should be active, be encouraged to participate but be safe. Children should enjoy sport and this will help them reach their potential."
Deborah Fry & stafford university of Edinburgh.
Children & young peoples experiences of Harm in organised sport.
This is an incrediably interesting 3 year study whiched aimed to fill the gaps in literature, show the
ranges of maltreatment and negative experiences in sport, assist development of policy, provide governing bodies about harm experienced by children in sport, and enable them to more effectively target resources, training and support. The study sample was ungradraduates 18-22, 6124 responses, 89 telephone interviews.
Main findings: sport is generally positive however, harm occurs at every level of sport, increase as participation increase (as moves up, more harm), peers most common perpetrators, emotional damage, sexual harassment, and a widespread acceptance and expectation of these behaviours by children participating in sport eg humiliation acceptance.
This shows the importance of group psychology as it's been found to increase people's level of confidence and team cohesion. The sessions that I run for young people explore attitude, and communication first and foremost to let young people understand what good and bad attitude is, and the effects of both. I use activities that allow them to explore these concepts with their team-mates
Different harm: emotional harm : 75%
Sexual harassment: 29%
Physical harm 24%
Self harm 10%
Sexual harm 3%
Emotional harm: peers and coaches - 79% criticism about their performance, 77% reported being embarrassed or humiliated, 66% teased and 51% shouted at.
So let's think about yourself as a coach or peer. I understand that criticism is part of coaching but we need to think, "Is what I am saying helpful or harmful?" and if its not helpful then change it. Also think about the way you are saying things and body language you are using.. Negative comments and constant critism can strip the fun out of sport. Think about the line between banter to build rapport and create a fun atmosphere and bullying.
Peer to peer
"This was only place were people bullied me. You have to just put up with it."
For athletes, do you think about how what you say can affect other people? Do you think about what and how you say things can change an environment and make others feel bad about themself. Put yourself in other people's shoes.
Body image - were more positive than negative overall as 88% agreed or strongly agreed that sport made them feel good about body. Nevertheless there was still 5% of the sample who were anorexia or bulimic
Self harm - 10%
Boys are more likely to punch themselves and girls are more like to scratch and cut themselves. Participants said that this was linked to body image and not feeling good about self.
"Miserable - doesn't matter how many medals you win, or how good - still have poor body image and cut myself"
Sexual harassment - 29% 34 female and 17 boys
2/3 team mares, 1/4 coaches and rest other
Links to clothing - making comments and shouting.
Space invaded, uncomfortable physical contact, rub. Space invaded most frequent.
Discomfort when coaches touch during instruction therefore, its important that we always ask first to touch children first.
More common among boys 5% boys 2% girls
Flashing, peer, inappropriate touching, gay athletes eg homophobic sexual harm, I effectively challenged.
24% and mainly peer to peer
Elite level was more coaches - 54% were made to train on when injured or play on when exhausted. Acceptance of injury and no support.
Physical aggression as part of competition.
Aggressive and violent treatment from coaches eg throwing things, kicking things, pushing us down and could do splits so was being punished. Accidental and deliberate.
Conclusion:Sport is generally positive.but harm occurs at every level of sport. Peers are most common perpetrators so as a coach how do you deal with this? Are you protecting players? Emotionally damaging and can cause drop put of sport so its important that as a coach we are protectors of young people and keep people in sport.
Need to build an ethos as rights based approach. Create safe child friendly spaces. What's your ethos!? Build on peer to peer relationships? How can you do this? During my psychology session I address communication and team work. Sport should be something to feel good about. We have very talented children and its key to make them feel good about that. Not only about being good at their sport, but about being good people.
Martin Henry National Manager Stop it now Scotland, chair of safeguarding in sport steering group answered, "What does safeguarding mean in sport?" and said
"Safe and having fun
Well being nurtured
Learn self confidence
Skills for life.
Adults of future and how to treat others.
Create people who can be important to lives of others.
Selecting, recruiting and supporting right people
Confidence in getting help when needed
Participate in sport in safe and appropriate environment.
That parents can feel that their kids are safe and confident of a positive environment.
Improve quality of information to children young people, parents/carers
Develop a culture where young people can be positive citizens"
Dr Joseph Bradley discussed positivity in sport - it helps in tackling obesity, confidence, helps academically. The more things you do, more diverse as person, and brings people together. Community is small talk, need when needed and where you can have someone to turn to. Connections with other people. Great sense of community. Share same problems but sport can provide opportunity for that. To have friendships.
The Outliners by Malcolm Gladwell spoke about how social aspect can help with health. Those who stopped to talk to people, positive interactions were healthier hence why being around positive people can help health. How can you promote the social aspect of teams? How can you get the young people to do things outwith sport and learn about each other?
Campbell Bell and Ronnie Hill of Children 1st also spoke about community engagement and partnership and the importance of reaching out with the hand of human kindness. The heart of everything is positive relationships.
How can you create a positive culture? What role do you play in your club community to make it a positive climate? What things can you improve on? How can you empower people? How can you work with others to be supported and support others? Civic conversation of growing the concept that it takes a community to raise a child. The impact of clubs can be huge on individuals and community. It takes a village to raise child. How can we help others and be engaged with others to make the best possible environment to create positive people of the future? More satisfaction with quality of life in local community, neighbourhood to lead to better outcomes. As a coach, how do you play a part in securing children's well being? How do we know we are keeping people safe? Course questions and outcomes? Do you ask kids mad parents for feedback on your coaching style? How safe they feel you keep their kids? This is something I can help you with and get you the feedback you need to be continually growing. I can also help you build team cohesion.
I will be running a coaching workshop in January so please keep your eyes peeled for the information on that and sign up quickly to secure a place.
Tracy Donachie, MSc in Performance Psychology.