When it comes to kid’s sport, parents and carers often have lots of questions about uniform, drop off times and whether the kids will get to play with their friends. But, the most important question we want parents and carers to ask their clubs is “how will your club keep my child safe’”.
Start to Talk is a new Child Safe Sport awareness campaign from Play by the Rules. Start to Talk is a national campaign which aims to encourage parents and sporting organisations to discuss how they can work together to create a child safe environment.
The campaign asks users to read, download and discuss Child Safe Sport resources developed by Sport Integrity Australia. PBTR aims to upskill the community by making it easy to locate the right resources – making it easy to understand what Child Safe Sport looks like- and most importantly setting out clearly and simply the practical steps parents, carers and clubs can take to start a conversation at their club.
Why are these conversations needed? The outcomes of the Royal Commission and recent academic studies show that when it comes to safeguarding in sport, conversations and awareness are vital.
82% of people sampled in a study conducted by Victoria University have experienced at least one type of interpersonal violence (psychological, physical and or sexual violence and neglect), as a child participating in community sport in Australia. 7 in 10 respondents experienced psychological violence from a peer, and over half of the study respondents experienced physical and/or psychological violence by a coach.
Start to Talk Ambassadors and study co-authors, Drs Aurélie Pankowiak and Mary Woessner, believe that community conversations are key to tackling this difficult subject:
“The results are in line with similar research that’s been conducted internationally; the numbers are high but they’re not surprising,” said Drs Pankowiak and Woessner.
“Children deserve to play sport in an environment in which they are and feel safe and included. While our data suggests that might not be the experience of all children, we can leverage these findings to create positive change. However, to do that we need parents and clubs to understand that this problem exists, and to be willing to talk about it with their children and the sports clubs. But most people don’t discuss this topic.”
“The Start to Talk campaign is a call to action for the sport community to talk about their experiences in sport. The campaign website provides parents and sporting clubs access to resources that can help support the community to communicate about safety in sport.”
Parents and carers are encouraged to read, download and discuss the free downloadable Child Safe Sport resources from Sport Integrity Australia and the Australian Human Rights Commission available now on the Play by the Rules website.
The Australian Start to Talk campaign was developed in response to recommendations from the Royal Commission which identified sport clubs as having an important role to play in the prevention and detection of abuse. It is based on a European child safety campaign lead by the Council of Europe. Start to Talk Ambassadors may be available to discuss the Australian campaign in more detail. For further enquiries please contact [email protected]The article was published Wednesday 1 June 2023 by Play by the Rules