The 5th NSPCC How safe are our children? conference took place on 21 and 22 June. For the first time in the event's history, we saw safeguarding in sport on the agenda.
The 2-day event, attended by over 400 people from various areas of child protection, was used to launch the 2017 How safe are our children? report. The most comprehensive overview of child protection in the UK, it revealed an increase in reports of child emotional abuse over the past 7 years.
How safe are our children in sport?
The CPSU’s Anne Tiivas hosted a panel on safeguarding in sport, alongside a number of safeguarding leads and ambassadors. The discussion highlighted the journey that sport and the NSPCC have travelled since the first high profile cases of abuse hit the press in the 1990s, through 15 years of development and implementation of safeguarding practice, to the present day and the focus on ‘Duty of Care’ and physical and mental well-being in the Government's sport strategy.
Anne concluded the session with how the NSPCC and the sports sector want sport to be for children and young people in the future, whatever the nature of their involvement – participant, young athlete, young coach, official or volunteer – and the work that needs to happen collectively for that vision to be achieved.
The keynote speaker was Sara Rowbotham, the former sexual health worker who exposed the Rochdale grooming scandal. Sara answered questions from the audience on her experience of identifying and trying to expose child sexual exploitation and the toll it took on her personally.
Themes across the 2 days included:
- child online safety
- the use of ACEs (adverse childhood experiences) to inform and transform how children are protected
- the scale of child sexual abuse and creativity and ending abuse, where NSPCC’s Siobhan Sheridan interviewed pianist James Rhodes about how creative arts can support people who have experienced abuse
Throughout the conference, a number of breakout sessions and panel discussions took place – some of which featured young people speaking about their role as digital leaders – as well as discussions about getting children back on track after abuse.