Protect Your Child
If your child talks to you about anything that is worrying them, always listen carefully and take them seriously. Try to build an open and trusting relationship so they know they can come to you with their concerns.
If your child tells you they have been abused, or describes what you think may be abuse, they may be feeling very anxious or embarrassed. So it is important that you do not react in a way that adds to their distress. Here are some points to remember:
- Try to react calmly
- Listen very carefully to what your child tells you
- Make clear that you believe what your child says
- Tell your child that they have done the right thing by telling you
- Tell them that they are not to blame
- It is very important that you take action to end the abuse
Another important way you can help protect your child is by teaching them about personal safety.
If you are worried that your child is being abused during sports activities it is vital that you talk to someone about it.
The idea of speaking out about abuse can be daunting. You will probably feel worried about the impact on you and/or your child. But if you have concerns you must take action. By doing so you will be protecting your child and also helping to prevent other children being harmed.
- Speak to the club child protection or welfare officer
- Find out the club guidelines for recording and reporting concerns and follow them
- Contact the NSPCC freephone, 24-hour Child Protection Helpline on 0808 800 5000. The Helpline also has a bilingual Welsh service, an Asian helpline, and a textphone service for people with hearing difficulties on 0800 056 0566.
- For concerns relating to swimming or football you can contact Swimline on 0808 100 4001/0800 731 7466, or the Football Association's Child Protection Helpline on 0808 800 5000.
- If you think a child is in immediate danger of abuse, contact the police on 999, or your local social services department.
Teach your child about personal safety
- Talk to your child about keeping safe. Encourage them to tell you straightaway if they feel uncomfortable or have worries about an adult's behaviour, whether during sports activities or in any other situations.
- Tell your child that he or she always has the right to say 'No' if an adult is trying to persuade them to do something they feel is wrong, or which makes them feel uncomfortable or frightened.
- Be a good listener. Children often feel very anxious and embarrassed about speaking out about abuse or bullying. So listen very carefully and take what your child says seriously.
- Make sure your child understands about sex and about their body. Talking about this may feel a little difficult at first, but it can play an important part in protecting your child from abuse. For example, your child needs to understand about the private parts of the body in order to recognise what is acceptable touching by an adult and what is not.
- Decide together on an 'emergency plan' for your child to follow in situations when they may be at risk of harm. Make sure he or she understand what they should do. If they are going to an 'away' event, encourage them to spend their free time there with a friend or another participant.
How YOU can help make sport safe
Parents can play an important role in making sports safe and enjoyable for all children. Here are some ways you can help:
- Encourage your child's club to develop child protection policies and guidelines.
- Check to make sure that the guidelines are being put into practice.
- Find out who the child protection officer is and support them in their work.
- Get involved as a volunteer.
- Go along to support your child's involvement in training, matches or competitions.
- If you are actively involved in the club, make sure your behaviour sets the right example.
Setting the right example
If you are actively involved in your child's sports club, remember that your behaviour can have either a positive or negative effect on the club's culture and atmosphere. How you behave at a match or competition and what you say and do afterwards to your child will not only affect him or her. It also influences how other parents and children behave.
Your approval is very important to your child. What you say and do about their performance has a major effect on how they feel about themselves and their abilities. So give positive and constructive feedback about his or her efforts. You should not make negative, personalised comments or punish them in any way.
Don't have a 'win at all cost' attitude, or encourage this in your child. Remember, learning to lose with a good grace is an important part of sportsmanship.
More positive behaviour:
- Find out the names of those who run the sports club and introduce yourself to them.
- Make sure you arrive on time before and after your child's activity.
- Make sure you tell the club if your child isn't able to attend a planned activity or if you need to make changes in pick-up arrangements.
- Help your child prepare by making sure they have all the necessary equipment, food and drinks.
- Find out ways you can actively support the club's activities.
- If you have any concerns, talk about them to the appropriate member of staff. If you are unhappy with the response you get from the club, contact Wales Rugby League.
- Comply with any requests made by club officials, even if the request is being asked to leave.