NSPCC campaign calls on parents and carers to show their positive support

Last updated: 02 Oct 2023 Topics: Safeguarding children

The NSPCC’s Keeping Your Child Safe in Sport Week urges parents to recognise how negative behaviour at sporting events and activities can impact children.

More than one in four parents (28%) who attend their child’s sports club or activity said they have seen or experienced inappropriate behaviour, a new NSPCC survey has revealed.

This includes shouting insults, intimidating or threatening behaviour or fights between parents, guardians, carers or children.

The YouGov poll, commissioned by the NSPCC’s Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU), also found that 68% of these parents said they or their children or both had felt uncomfortable because of it, and almost one in five parents said no action had been taken to stop it.

This year’s campaign is calling on parents to:

  • recognise that negative behaviour, including at sporting events, can have an impact on their child and their enjoyment of their chosen sport or club
  • understand their crucial safeguarding role in their child's sport and help keep them safe from possible abuse
  • get involved in their child’s sporting club or activity and show positive support. Sport is safest when everyone plays their role in keeping children safe, including parents

We have launched a new video, My No. 1 Fan, which explores how behaviour from the sidelines can affect young sportspeople.

The short film features interviews with families talking about what positive parental behaviour and support means to them and how negative behaviour can impact children’s enjoyment of sport.

Keeping Your Child Safe in Sport Week is being supported by sports clubs and sportspeople across the country at all levels, including Liverpool FC, Everton FC, Leeds United, Sunderland AFC, Birmingham City, Tranmere Rovers, Volleyball England, as well as football icon Alan Shearer and the youngest ever British Olympian, skateboarder Sky Brown.

Sky said:

“I’m so proud to be a supporter of Keeping Your Child Safe in Sport Week. All parents should feel they are equipped with the information that they need so that their kids can be with a safe sports club where their kids are having fun.

"Having my family with me is really important to me on my journey. My dad and my brother are always by my side and my mom always makes me feel at home when we are on the road and cooks the best food! I am thankful that they often travel with me for competition and training.

"Outside of skating and surfing, my friends are so important to me, but I also have school. Family is important to me both in skating and surfing, and outside of it.”

The NSPCC recognises that children enjoy sport and activities the most when parents are engaged in what they do, whether it is postgame support and cheerleading or showing an interest in the rules of the game.

Premier League and England football icon Alan Shearer said:

“I’m supporting Keeping Your Child Safe in Sport Week because I think it’s really important that we support children in sport.

"I’m aware of the rises and falls of sport and it can be an emotional experience for young people. It is vital that adults are around young people every step of the way because they can make a huge difference. We need to keep supporting them in a positive way.”

As well as this new film, the NSPCC’s CPSU hosts a wealth of resources and information for parents on the Parents’ Hub, including a free e-learning course for parents on keeping children safer in sport, videos, podcasts and factsheets.

Michelle North, head of CPSU, said:

“We know that inappropriate behaviour has a negative impact on young people and affects their enjoyment of the sport or activity, which in positive and safe environments can bring a lot of fulfilment to their lives.

“It is important that sports organisations and activity providers not only work with their staff and volunteers but with parents too to ensure that children have the safest and most enjoyable experience in sport.”

The NSPCC and its CPSU want to bring together parents and sports clubs and bodies to help give them the confidence and knowledge about the role they can play in keeping their children safe in sports and activity settings.

Last weekend, the NSPCC supported the Football Association’s Play Safe campaign - a countrywide campaign to focus attention on the vital importance of safeguarding in our national game.

Sir Peter Wanless, CEO of the NSPCC, added:

“Being your child’s biggest supporter can help instil in them a lifelong love of sport, and help them build friendships and confidence. It can also help you learn about what makes their sports club safe and how to spot the signs that something might be wrong.

“Our Keeping Your Child Safe in Sport Week campaign highlights how important parents and carers are in a child's sporting life. You can make a difference by being involved and supporting your child in their club or activity in a positive way and helping to spread the word about keeping children safe in sport.”

The NSPCC is encouraging parents to get involved and learn more about their local sports clubs and activities safeguarding and to be part of the team, on our Parents' Hub.

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