A NEW rights-based, child-centred approach towards children’s safety and wellbeing in sport has been launched.

Developed by sportscotland and Children 1st — Scotland’s national children’s charity — the new Standards for Child Wellbeing and Protection in Sport aims to introduce measures that promote, safeguard and support the wellbeing of young people who take up sport.

It will do so by building upon and enhancing the existing Minimum Operating Requirements (MORs), introduced over eight years ago and will enable sports organisations to adopt best practice, values and behaviour in this critical area for children.

The launch took place at Banchory Primary School in Tullibody, Clackmannanshire, yesterday.

Minister for Public Health and Sport Aileen Campbell hosted a discussion in March, which brought together various organisations — including Disclosure Scotland, a government agency that carries out background checks — to examine the child protection system in Scottish sport. It followed the launch of an inquiry into the current system after more than 100 child sexual abuse referrals were made within three weeks of a helpline being launched.

It had earlier been revealed that around 2500 coaches did not have the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) clearance, required for working with children and vulnerable adults.

“Sport can make a fantastic difference to children’s lives and every child should be able to enjoy sport safely,” said Linda Jardine, interim director of Children and Family Services at Children 1st. “By continually improving their culture and practices in line with the standards, organisations will create a safer and happier environment for all children to get the most out of sport.

“Volunteer and professional coaches are very often trusted role models for thousands of children in Scotland and can play a crucial role in keeping them safe.”

She added: “The standards place a particular importance on giving children a voice in their sporting organisation.

“This will help to create a culture where children feel valued and able to speak up and where adults listen and respond to children’s needs.”

The eight standards set out a range of principles, the first four of which are focused on the rights of the child. They are: ensuring every child is respected without discrimination, that their wellbeing is promoted, supported and safeguarded, that every child is protected from abuse when taking part in sport, and that every child has a say.

The next two are aimed at at volunteers and staff, ensuring that they are selected and assessed through appropriate processes and that they respect the rights of children.

The final two focus on the governing bodies and call on them to be accountable for keeping children safe and to regularly evaluate and make improvements where necessary.

“Children’s safety and wellbeing of children is a top priority, and we all have a duty to protect them and raise concerns when necessary,” said Campbell.

“I’m delighted with the introduction of the new child protection in sport standards and welcome the new approach from sportscotland which is rights-based and child-centred.

“I look forward to working closely with sportscotland and other partners as the new standards are implemented to further strengthen our child protection system in sport.”