4 allegations and counting

David White is the fourth football player to disclose that he was sexually abused by Barry Bennell.

Sadly, I am not surprised that the number of victims of sexual abuse within football are increasing. Barry Bennell will not be the only coach within the sport to have abused players. Nor will he be the last.

Football clubs are not unique, but, they have their own challenges. The players are their assets. Players want to play football. They will do anything to get a game and to make it big in the sport.

Those in a position of authority (even perceived) have a unique position. In grooming their victims, not only can they persuade victims to stay quiet on the basis they won’t be believed , but also that their careers (and future careers) will be ruined.

Football has to wake up to the tragic reality they face. Abusers are working within clubs now. Children who are desperate to be the next David Beckham or Steven Gerrard are being abused.

Safeguarding practice within clubs has come along way, but, there is much more to be done.

Here are my top five guidelines to protect both players and clubs:

Don’t ignore the news.

What has happened is awful but can be used as a learning tool for staff. What happened, where, who & what can help understanding the how. Knowing how it happened will help you strengthen your team to work to prevent future events occurring

Don’t think it won’t happen to your club.

Abuse can take place anywhere, regardless of the amount of training staff have had. Football clubs have high numbers of backroom staff, not all have DBS checks. How easy is it for back room in your club to interact with the youth teams? Can they just walk into dressing rooms, for example? Or be present during team coaching/practice sessions.

Keep all staff up to date.

There is now a requirement for everyone working in schools to be trained to be aware of the basic signs of child abuse and have a basic understanding of what to do if they are concerned about a child. Adopt that approach. If everyone has an inner alarm bell, abuse is more likely to be spotted, as is predatory or abusive behaviour.

Check your organisation for weak points in your recruitment processes.

If a predator wants to abuse children, they will find a way. Make sure your Safeguarding policies are fit for purpose. Do they cover issues such as access to dressing rooms, meeting children 1-1, how to report & support for staff and children?

Treat Safeguarding as a priority.

Child protection is not a tick box exercise. Maintaining minimum standards set is unlikely to be enough. Unless Safeguarding is st the heart of your organisation it will never be a priority and more children are at risk.

Speak to me about any concerns you have. Together we can build safer organisations. Contact Kate on 07502907157 or email contact@thesafeguardingacademy.com

Kate is an expert in child protection. Her new book, The Safeguarding Jigsaw, is out now on Amazon.

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