Safeguarding in Sport

Today is the 7th annual Child Exploitation Awareness Day #CEADay21 that the NWG has been hosting, It comes amidst a week of turbulence in society with a focus on violence against women and girls being at the forefront of the media since the weekend and also as Clive Sheldon QC finally published his report into horrendous abuse within English and Welsh football. A link below to the report;      

https://www.thefa.com/news/2021/mar/17/clive-sheldon-qc-independent-commission-report-released-20210317 

The report is 710 pages long with 13 recommendationsI’m sure like me this will be the reading material over the next few days for many of you as we digest the report in full and reach our own conclusions. 

The report does identify key perpetrators who we have all seen in the media following court cases and sentencing and acknowledges the hundreds of victims of abuse who suffered at the hands of these perpetrators, however, what must also be acknowledged is the failings of so many involved in all of the clubs who failed in both their moral and legal duty to keep children safe and the absolute betrayal of children in order to protect individuals or institutions. 

This sadly is nothing new in sport and other institutions where children have been abused, the ongoing Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse chaired by Professor Alexis Jay is a testament to this. The Truth Project features abuse in many institutions where the expectation backed by regulations is that those adults working in these places should keep children safe, religious groups, children’s homes, sport are all areas identified in the inquiry who failed children time and time again.  

Therefore is it time to look at those who “looked the other way” and fail children miserably and to start taking action against those who “enabled” the abuse to occur and look at them in the same way as we do the perpetrators. 

Recently I have been delighted to watch over two webinars covering the thoughts and views of Amos N. Guiora about those who enable abuse to occur. Amos has recently published a book “Armies of Enablers” in which he has listened to the stories of those who have been abused in American Sport and the Catholic Church over in America, he highlights the betrayal and complicity of the organisations and institutions in covering up abuse, the silencing of children and their families and the absolute power that they held over the young athletes whereby their dreams and aspirations could be crushed in an instant. The book is well worth a read and I would also recommend watching Amos on a recent interview hosted by ShePower Sport called “the duty to act”, you will have to register with the organisation but it is free and easy to do then you can access the recording and learn about his views of enablers as well as bystanders.

Please see below a link to their website for more details; 

https://shepowersport.com/ 

I am sure as we all read the report that we will identify many enablers in every club, but a question to ask is what has happened to them? Who takes responsibility for failing to protect children, the perpetrators are jailed but what of those “armies of enablers”? In the USA 11 states have introduced new laws compelling bystanders of incidents to take action to protect their fellow citizens, is it time for a change over here in the UK to possibly adopt similar laws, the ongoing discourse about violence against women and girls requires a societal shift in attitudes and culture towards women and girls as far too often people “look the other way” and many simply do not want to get involved.  

I will read the report and write another blog soon after reflecting on the content as well as analysing the FA response and those who gave evidence but more importantly the views of the victims who bravely brought their stories of abuse to the attention of the Police. Without them nothing would change, without them, the abusers would continue, and the enablers would continue to allow it to happen. 

As always the NWG Exploitation Response Unit Safeguarding in Sport team would be happy to answer any queries or question regarding this blog and we are always happy for a chat about how you are keeping children safe in sport and other activities that children participate in outside of school. 

Kev Murphy and Bina Parmar 

Safeguarding in Sport Team 

NWG Exploitation Response Unit  

[email protected]  [email protected] 

www.nwgnetwork.org 

www.stop-cse.org