Guiding principle

To ensure the effective implementation of child safeguarding policies in sport, the development of clearer and more comprehensive guidance on the role of specific actors is needed especially regarding Child Safeguarding Officers.

Child Safeguarding Officers are appointed by a sport organisation or public authority and contribute to preventing all forms of abuse and violence against children and responding to concerns in sport settings. Their role and responsibilities may be different depending on the organisation in which they operate.


 Tips from partners and experts when developing systems of child safeguarding officer roles

  1. Develop necessary partnerships among key stakeholders (public authorities responsible for sport, major sport organisations, children’s rights agencies, etc) to ensure robust child safeguarding officer systems.
  2. Define clear roles and responsibilities at the appropriate levels (level of public authorities responsible for sport, umbrella sport organisations, national sport federations, sport clubs and other relevant organisations).
  3. Designating Child Safeguarding Officer roles must be part of a comprehensive child safeguarding approach and a whole organisation commitment.
  4. Arrangements should be in place to provide advice and support. Children and young people should be provided with information on their rights and where to go for help if they are experiencing violence or abuse. People with responsibility for safeguarding in sport should have access to advice and support.
  5. Ensure training and educational programmes for Child Safeguarding Officers.
  6. Engage children and young people’s participation in the process of developing systems for Child Safeguarding Officer roles.


Examples of practices and initiatives

From research to action – the establishment of a Centre of Safe Sport

 Organisation responsible: Netherlands Olympic Committee*Netherlands Sport Confederation (NOC*NSF), Netherlands

 Target groups of the practice: Child Safeguarding Officers

 Background: Shared responsibility by the national sports federations for harassment in sport has been in place since 1998 but intensified following a national survey in 2014 on harassment and abuse in sport. In 2017 another national survey under the auspices of a special committee on request of the ministry identified a range of recommendations which the NOC*NSF announced they would adopt and implement all recommendations.

 Summary: The goal is to make safe sport possible for everyone in the Netherlands. The recommendations from the 2017 survey included work on prevention, create a centre of safe sport (CVSN), clarify the roles of the safeguarding officers of the CVSN and focus on cooperation of different professionals and organisations. In 2017 the CVSN was established with the focus on a pedagogical approach (including safeguarding) that supports the prevention of at clubs working closely with the national federations.

The most important steps in the process of setting up the CVSN is the appointment of staff, the cooperation with national sports federations and the central recording of signals in the case management system sport. To date the CVSN have seen an increase in the reporting of cases for athletes who have federations and those who not affiliated. A strong network of organisations has developed to help prevent transgressive behaviours.

 Timeframe: 2017

 More information available here

 Detailed description 

Roles and Responsibilities

 Organisation responsible: Sport Ireland, Ireland

 Target groups of the practice: National Governing Bodies, clubs, sport organisations – for all roles within safeguarding

 Background: Everyone in sport including children, parents/carers and sports leaders should accept the role and responsibilities they undertake in their commitment to maintaining an enjoyable and safe environment. Sports leaders play a vital role in children’s sport. Interaction between children and with adults should be conducted in a spirit of mutual respect, equality and non-discrimination with a spirit of fair play.

 Summary: Sport organisations have a duty to promote the welfare and safety of children. Staff and volunteers should be alert to the possibility that children with whom they are in contact may be being abused or at risk of being abused. They should know how to recognise and respond to the possibility of abuse or neglect to ensure the most effective steps are taken to protect a child and contribute to the ongoing safety of children.

The process:

  • Sport Ireland developed Safeguarding Guidance for Children and Young People for use by sports organisations.
  • Sport Ireland developed training for sports leaders and their role.
  • Sports leaders are then appointed or volunteer to their roles.
  • Sports leaders become familiar with the policies and procedures within their specific sport and sign up to the relevant policies/codes of conduct.
  • Sports leaders should undergo the relevant safeguarding training for their role.

 Timeframe: Evolving since the 2000s

 More information available here

 Detailed description 

Safeguarding Lead Officer

 Organisation responsible: National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) and Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU), United Kingdom

 Target groups of the practice: Child Safeguarding Officers

 Background: The CPSU have developed a cascade training model for Child Safeguarding Officers delivered by partner agencies and some sports themselves. The courses include:

  • Introduction to Case Management
  • Case management and Poor Practice
  • Risk Assessment in Safe Recruitment
  • Safe Events
  • Safer Virtual Sports Events
  • Drop In Events
  • Management Board Training
  • Introduction to the role of lead safeguarding officer in an NGB
  • Refresher for NGB lead safeguarding officers

 Summary: Currently all national governing body training and Child Safeguarding Officer support meetings which are held monthly for 1 hour are virtual. Recent Child Safeguarding Officer support meetings have included topics such as:

  • Facilitating Youth Forums- Giving the child a voice
  • Sharing information with and from Statutory agencies
  • Police national investigation of child sexual abuse cases.
  • Research and case management of serious child abuse cases
  • Child Sexual Exploitation

The CPSU offer a duty service to support Child Safeguarding Officers during the working week - (Monday- Friday) with the NSPCC Helpline offering additional support and advice out of hours and at weekends.

In the last 12 months over 300 delegates have attended CPSU training which is available to 49 National Governing Bodies and 39 Active Partnerships.

 Timeframe: Ongoing

 More information available here

 Detailed description 

Safeguarding Officers

 Organisation responsible: Centre for Ethics in Sport (ICES), Belgium

 Target groups of the practice: Safeguarding Officers in sport federations and sport clubs

 Background: One focus point of sports policy by the Flemish government was to install Child Safeguarding Officers both at federation and club level. From 2021, it is obligatory for sport federations to have at least one dedicated Safeguarding Officer. Furthermore, federations are responsible for the promotion of Safeguarding Officers at club level. To train and support these Safeguarding Officers both at federation and club level, ICES has developed manuals and educational training programmes.

 Summary: In Flanders, the focus lies in the installation of Safeguarding Officer roles both at federation and club level. Since January 2021, recognised sport federations need to install at least one Safeguarding Officer to comply with the government’s sport policy and this action is mandatory to receive funding via the Flemish Sport Decree on the recognition and subsidisation of the organised sport sector (June 10th, 2016). Furthermore, to receive funding via the same Decree, sport federations need to activate initiatives to motivate their clubs to install a safeguarding policy. One of the initiatives that is strongly encouraged is the appointment of a Club Safeguarding Officer at the club.

 Timeframe: 2018 - ongoing

 More information available here and here

Step-by-Step Process

 Organisation responsible: German Sports Youth / Deutsche Sport Jugend (DSJ), Germany

 Target groups of the practice: Roles within safeguarding

 Background: In March 2018 following the declaration by the general assembly of the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB) “prevention of sexual abuse in sport”, the General Assembly of the German Sports Youth passed a resolution to implement measures for prevention of sexual violence.

Due to different approaches to the prevention of sexualised violence in sports the Step-by-Step Process established common minimum standards in sports in Germany.

 Summary: By December 2018, all youth sport associations signed a self-commitment to implement the Step-by-Step Process which contains prevention measures specifically designed for sport associations.

The DSJ supports its member organisations in an advisory capacity and offers a variety of templates and supporting materials.

The DSJ creates opportunities for further training and professional exchange through events.

German Sport Youth conducts one day training for new child safeguarding officers and hosts an annual conference for all SOs of federations to discuss issues with experts. Training at club level is also delivered.

By implementing the Step-by-Step Process in member organisations, a comprehensive network of child safeguarding officers has been established. In addition, developing customised protections is also possible in sports organisations.

The implementation of standards is a prerequisite for the transfer of public grants forwarded by the DSJ to their member organisations from 2019.

 Timeframe: 2018 - 2021

MPIO - Member Protection Information Officer Role Officer, Role and Training

 Organisation responsible: Play by the Rules, Australia

 Target groups of the practice: Administrators, coaches, officials, players, parents and spectators

 Background: Play by the Rules is a unique collaboration between Sport Integrity Australia, Sport Australia, Australian Human Rights Commission, all state and territory departments of sport and recreation, all state and territory anti-discrimination and human rights agencies, the Office of the Children's Guardian (NSW) and the Anti-Discrimination Board of NSW. These partners promote Play by the Rules through their networks, along with their own child safety, anti-discrimination and inclusion programmes.

 Summary: Play by the Rules provides information, resources, tools and free online training to increase the capacity and capability of administrators, coaches, officials, players, parents and spectators to assist them in preventing and dealing with discrimination, harassment, child safety, inclusion and integrity issues in sport.

Play by the Rules has developed the role of Member Protection Information Officers (MPIO) and implements a two-stage process involving both online and face to face training to support members stepping into that role.

MPIOs are usually supported by a Member Protection Policy (MPP). MPIOs provide information and guidance on complaints procedures. They are the 'go to' person if you want to discuss problems at your club/association and are considering making a formal complaint.

The modules are:

  • Introduction
  • The MPIO Role
  • Complaint resolution procedures
  • Member Protection and the Law
  • Child Protection
  • Harassment and Discrimination
  • Ethical and Practical Considerations.

 More information available here and here

© Photo: Loop Europe / CoE