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No Place Left to Hide

The members of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) adopted a Safeguarding Policy in November 2019 which was subsequently published on their website in February 2020. In doing so they committed themselves to action that would hopefully create a safer more inclusive environment for all athletes to participate in sport both young and old.

South Africa has like most countries has had to consider cases of harassment, abuse, neglect and exploitation in sport. Many cases have ended in the courts but these and other less serious cases need to be addressed through internal processes which many sports organisations have failed to do or simply did not have the safeguarding policies and procedures to be able to take disciplinary or remedial action.

That time is over now as all members of SASCOC in confirming the SASCOC Safeguarding Policy are bound to adopt and implement that policy within their organisations. They have specifically agreed to:

  • develop their own safeguarding policy aligned to that of SASCOC and their parent international sports federation;

  • make their own safeguarding policy easily accessible which would suggest publishing it prominently on their websites;

  • formally adopt their own policy through a resolution of the board or council;

  • communicate their policy to their members;

  • provide training on safeguarding to their members who have regular contact with children and vulnerable adults and to safeguarding officers operating at federation, club and events levels;

  • appoint a lead Safeguarding Officer for their organisation;

  • require their members to appoint safeguarding officers at club and events levels;

  • report any safeguarding cases or concerns to SASCOC.

Whilst implementing all of these actions will require time, one year on from the adoption of the SASCOC policy it would be reasonable to expect that all members have at least adopted their own safeguarding policy and have appointed someone to take responsibility for safeguarding at a national level.

The abuse of children and vulnerable persons in sport occurs in every sport, in every country and in every context. We all have a duty of care to those who participate in sport and sports organisations need to have in place appropriate policies and procedures including designating someone to lead on safeguarding in their organisation.

Failing to implement the steps set out in the SASCOC Safeguarding Policy might be viewed as negligent considering the mandate and need to safeguard children and vulnerable persons from harm in sport. There simply is no place left to hide, SASCOC members have agreed the standards and now need to prioritise these actions they signed up to.

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