UNICEF takes safeguarding procedures beyond paper
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Draft standards and implementation methods for safeguarding children in sport and sport for development were discussed by representatives from an international cross-sector group of organisations taking part in a safeguarding workshop hosted by UNICEF at this year’s Beyond Sport Summit in London.

The one-year action plan started with draft guidelines that build on the collective experience of the international Keeping Children Safe Network and The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children’s Child Protection in Sport Unit (NSPCC) and were delivered by a working group, who will continue to collect and distribute information throughout the 12-month plan.

What is safeguarding?
Definitions of terminology and language used within the document played a large role in interpretation of the standards. The working group defined safeguarding as:

“Taking all reasonable measures to ensure that the risks of harm to children’s welfare is minimised; and where there are concerns about children and young peoples welfare, taking appropriate action to address those concerns.”

However, when discussing the standards, which have been drafted into the document, there was a need for flexibility of definitions, so that these guidelines remain a document which will be adapted to suit cultural sensitivity and environments.

Learning from other organisations
Right To Play (RTP) shared their experiences of developing and implementing safeguarding policies, which began as a document in 2005 and has now expanded to a policy package, implementation guidebook and training manual for community coaches and trained officers dealing with these issues across each country they work. With the example of how this has been implemented in Thailand, delegates heard how RTP utilised their large country networks which demonstrated the community buy-in of their programme and use of multi-sectorial partnerships.

Challenges organisations face
The availability of resources to ensure guidelines are implemented and monitored remains a challenge, with many suggesting that funders need to take more responsibility for ensuring their partners have the necessary capacity to effectively implement standards.

Taking these standards beyond theory
One key issue to arise from the implementation of these guidelines was to include the beneficiaries, young people, in the design to ensure they are given a voice. Including others around them, such as parents and community members, was also seen as equally important, as coaches do not work in isolation in influencing and developing thier character.

The key outcomes of the session were the development of a new vision for the guidelines, reviewed standards with the creation of a new area to be addressed, and the assessment of where organisations are currently at and how to move forward with this 12 month plan.

Former NBA star, John Amaechi, who has previously worked with NSPCC, will work with the campaign as he believes the guidelines will help "sport deliver its promise to young people" by ensuring a safe environment is available.

Laura Wright, Child Protection Coordinator for Right To Play, said, “the workshop was a great opportunity to learn a lot from different organisations and get a concrete foundation to work from.”

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