For sports organisations and activity providers, safeguarding should continue into the online world as well.
Organisation’s websites, social media channels and all forms of online or virtual communication should have safeguards in place to help to keep your young members and staff safe from harm while using them.
Why is online safety important for sport?
Having safeguards in place helps protect children and young people from potential online risks whilst in your organisations care. Including online safeguarding measures within your policies and procedures provides parameters for everyone.
This is especially important when communicating with young people online to ensure you’re using online platforms responsibly and creating a safer online culture.
What online safety means for sports
Using websites and social media platforms to promote your sport or organisation can have great benefits, such as encouraging a team ethos, sharing information or news to participants, listening to the voices of children and young people, and attracting new club members.
Potential risks for children and young people
When using online apps and creating online profiles on websites we share a wealth of information about ourselves publicly. This personal information could potentially be used to identify individuals and then possibly used to gain their trust or groom them for abuse.
Online safety risks for young people can include, but are not limited to:
- making themselves identifiable by posting personal details on social media such as the school they attend or their home address
- communicating with others online
- potential for inappropriate relationships between adults in positions of trust or influence and the young people they work with
- sexual grooming, luring, exploitation and abuse, or unwanted contact
- exposure to inappropriate content, including pornography, racist or hate material or violent behaviour
- being encouraged to create or share inappropriate or harmful material of themselves or others, including sexting (sexual messages, images or videos)
- encouraging harmful activities including the use of harmful substances like illegal drugs, alcohol, cigarettes or vapes
- cyberbullying, trolling or berating by peers and people they consider ‘friends’ – in sport this can include negative comments or reactions about their performance or achievement
- access to inaccurate and therefore potentially harmful information
- encouragement to take part in violent behaviour or harmful trends
- seeing content or engaging in behaviours that promote unhealthy attitudes towards their health and bodies, this includes pro-anorexia content or self-harm content
Take a look at the NSPCC Learning website for more information about the types of abuse that can happen online.