How your sport looks after you (for young adults aged 13-17)


How you should be treated and what to do if you feel unsafe

This information is for young people aged 13 to 17 years old. It helps you understand your sport’s Child Safeguarding Policy.

The Child Safeguarding Policy explains how sports provide a safe, positive, inclusive, and supportive place for all children and young people participating in sport.

This Policy helps everyone involved in sport – children and young people, parents, carers, coaches, staff, and volunteers – understand their rights and responsibilities about your safety and wellbeing. It sets out the rules about acceptable and unacceptable behaviour, and what you can do if you feel unsafe, unhappy or have been harmed.

How should you expect to be treated?

When you participate in sport, you have a right to feel safe, included and happy. Sport does not allow any form of harm to children or young people. This means that anything that makes you feel uncomfortable, unsafe, threatened, or hurts you, is not ok.

Coaches, staff, and volunteers working in your sport should treat you with care and respect. When making decisions, the most important thing is what’s best for you.

Coaches, staff and volunteers of sports clubs must...

Treat you with respect. Coaches, staff, and volunteers should speak to you respectfully and in a way that encourages you. They must not bully you, or use language that is negative, hurtful, or talk to you in a way that makes you feel scared. They must not treat you or any other young person unfairly due to gender, culture, race, disability, or sexuality.

Keep you safe and not hurt you. Coaches, staff, and volunteers must not hurt you, physically, sexually, or emotionally. This includes speaking to you in a way that makes you feel upset or unsafe, constantly criticising or ignoring you, or talking to you about things of an ‘adult’ or sexual nature. It also includes touching you or doing something that makes you feel uncomfortable or scared. Under no circumstances should you be disciplined physically or verbally in a way that causes you to feel frightened or humiliated.

Respect your privacy. Coaches, staff, and volunteers should not do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable or unsafe. For example, coaches, staff, and volunteers are not allowed to take photos of you without permission from you and your family. They should not be alone with you in a change room. They should not touch you or make you do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable, scared, or embarrassed.

Act professionally at all times. Coaches, staff, and volunteers must be professional and treat you respectfully at all times. For example, they should treat everyone the same, they shouldn’t contact you or meet you alone when you’re not taking part in sport, and they shouldn’t ask you to keep secrets from other adults, your friends, or teammates.

Listen to you about things that are important to you and take what you say seriously.

Support and protect you from harm. Coaches, staff, and volunteers also have a responsibility to help you if you tell them that you have been physically, sexually, or emotionally harmed by another person. This includes if you are harmed by another young person, a parent, carer, or adult.

Not treat you badly or unfairly because you have made a complaint. It is not ok for an adult to be mean to you, ignore you or treat you unfairly because you have made a complaint about them or another person.

Ensure all staff and volunteers at the sport are safe to work with children. Your sport will check that anybody who is working with children and young people is safe to be with you. They will train all staff and volunteers in child safety.

These are just some examples of how your sport keeps you safe and what types of behaviour are unacceptable behaviour. There are many other behaviours that might make you feel unsafe or uncomfortable that are not mentioned here. You have a right to speak up about anything that makes you feel unsafe or uncomfortable, and to seek help from an adult you trust

Can you think of someone who makes you feel safe?

Who can you talk to if someone makes you feel unhappy, scared, or embarrassed?

What can you do if you feel unsafe or have been harmed?

If something happens that makes you feel uncomfortable, unsafe, or threatened, invades your privacy, or hurts you in any way – or if you see or hear about this happening to another young person – tell an adult you trust.

The Policy says that adults who work or volunteer at the sport have a responsibility to support and help you. They must listen to you, hear what you say and do something to stop it from happening to you again.

It doesn’t matter who has hurt you or made you feel unsafe. It could be another child or young person, a parent or carer, a coach, staff member or volunteer of the sport. You have the right to tell someone about it and ask for help.

What happens next?

If you feel upset about something that has happened to you, or if you need help to make it stop, you should speak to someone you trust. This can be a family member or an adult you trust at your sport.

If you choose to tell an adult about someone who has hurt you or made you feel unsafe, that adult might need to tell someone else. This is why adults can’t promise to keep what you say a secret. But remember, they will only tell the people who need to know so they can help fix the problem, to keep you safe.

The adult you talk to can help you to make a complaint. A complaint is when you, or an adult, writes down what happened to you and gives it to a person in charge. Making a complaint is your choice and you will be supported by adults to do this. The person in charge should listen to you when you make the complaint and explain what they can do to help fix it. By making a complaint, you could help yourself and other children to keep safe.

Mandatory reporting

If you tell an adult about any physical, sexual, or emotional harm you have experienced or have witnessed, they might have to tell someone else, for example the police or a child protection agency. This is a legal requirement known as mandatory reporting. This will only happen if the adult believes you or another child are in danger or have been treated very badly. But remember, they will only tell the people who need to know so they can help fix the problem, to keep you safe.

Other ways you can get help

You can go to the police if you want to report something that is happening by:

  • visiting your local police station
  • dialling 000 if you are in immediate danger, or 131 444 if you need help at any other time. 

Free and confidential* online and phone counselling/advice services. You can call or chat anytime, for any reason.

*Confidential means the person you speak to will not share what you tell them with anybody without your agreement, unless you or someone else is in danger.