International Safeguarding Children in Sport

Background on Safeguarding

Safeguarding is the process of protecting children from abuse or neglect, preventing impairment of their health and development, and ensuring they grow up with safe and effective care that enables them to have optimum life chances to enter adulthood successfully. Safeguarding within child and youth-serving organizations can include various policies, procedures, and practices that organizations can implement to both prevent child sexual abuse from happening and ensure a swift response when abuse is reported or identified.

Photo courtesy of UNICEF. © UNICEFUNI177019/Richter 

These can include the following:


  • Mandatory background checks for managers, staff, and volunteers
  • Mandatory training of managers, staff, and volunteers on a regular basis
  • Codes of conduct
  • Immediate mandatory reporting requirements
  • Mechanisms for reporting abuse — including anonymously (e.g., hotlines)
  • Procedures to investigate reported cases
  • Mandatory yearly safety assessments
  • Safety policies (e.g., supervision, eliminating private one-on-one contact, transportation)
  • Ongoing monitoring and evaluation of safeguarding policies
  • Safety committees

One example of safeguarding policies and procedures in action is the International Safeguards for Children in Sport.

Photo courtesy of UNICEF. © UNICEFUNI122262/Zaidi

About the Program

For the 2012 Beyond Sport Summit in London, a draft set of Safeguards were developed by a partnership working to establish various policies, procedures, and practices that organizations can implement to both prevent child sexual abuse and ensure a swift response when abuse is reported or identified. These Safeguards were further developed through an extensive piloting phase over the next two years.

“Millions of children and young people take part in sporting activities every day across the world. For some children this is purely for recreation, for others a chosen career and for some a path out of poverty. But it is increasingly recognised that too often sport fails to fully consider the risks to children, leading to incidents of abuse and harm.” – Sports And Dev

The finalized version of the Safeguards was launched at Beyond Sport in October 2014, laying the foundation for a holistic approach to ensuring children’s safety and protection in all sports contexts internationally.

Photo courtesy of UNICEF. © UNICEFUNI123577/Krzysiek 

The eight Safeguards are:

  1. Developing your policy
  2. Procedures for responding to safeguarding concerns
  3. Advice and support
  4. Minimizing risks to children
  5. Guidelines for behaviour
  6. Recruiting, training and communicating
  7. Working with partners
  8. Monitoring and evaluating

According to Sports and Dev, the safeguards aim to help create a safe sporting environment for children wherever they participate and at whatever level. They also:

  • Provide a benchmark to assist sports providers and funders to make informed decisions
  • Promote good practice and challenge practice that is harmful to children
  • Provide clarity on safeguarding children to all involved in sport

Photo courtesy of Right to Play

Learn More:

This spotlight was pulled from “What Works to Prevent Sexual Violence Against Children,” a systematic review of proven solutions and best practices to prevent and respond to sexual violence against children and youth (SVAC). The review was completed in collaboration with a group of experts and allied organizations and highlights evidence-based solutions from around the world. Read the whole set of #SVSolutions Program Spotlights here.

Program Overview

  • Organization: International Safeguards for Children in Sport
  • Intervention: Adoption of safeguarding policies and procedures for child and youth-serving organizations (e.g., mandatory background checks for staff, mandatory reporting, codes of conduct, yearly safety assessments, anonymous mechanisms for reporting abuse
  • Ranking: This intervention is categorized as PRUDENT
  • Location: Global
  • Age Group: All
  • Gender: All

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