The report functions as a self-assessment tool for sport organisations to ensure they meet the necessary standards and minimum criteria for the support, promotion and protection of children’s safety and wellbeing. It seeks to develop on the previous Minimum Operating Requirements (MORs) with a broader approach which is child-centred and rights-based.
A draft for the standards was developed by 5 SGBs participating in a working group set up to comment and advise on the application and practice in a Scottish sports context. A final draft with an accompanying self-assessment tool was piloted in July 2016 with 10 SGBs and 10 clubs participating. The final draft included the following standards along with their minimum criteria requirements: 1) that every child is respected without discrimination; 2) every child’s wellbeing is promoted, supported and safeguarded; 3) every child is protected from abuse when taking part; 4) every child has a say in their sport; 5) that volunteers and staff have been through a suitable selection process; 6) that volunteers and staff are suitably supported; 7) that the sports organisation is well managed and held accountable; and 8) that the sports organisation continues to self-evaluate and make improvements where necessary. Analysis of the self-evaluations were then carried out, assessing the positives and issues to be addressed.
One area for improvement identified by both SGBs and clubs was the need to actively listen to children and provide them with opportunities to be involved in the decisions that affect them. Workload and time restraints were identified as a significant challenge, with both SGBs and clubs being predominantly run by volunteers, making it essential for appropriate support to be provided. Respondents suggested the most useful types of support included an online tool for self-evaluation, policy guidance, training opportunities, and forums to share ideas. Based on these findings, the report makes 12 recommendations for the effective roll-out of the new system, which includes replacing the MORs and making the implementation of the standards a necessary condition for SportScotland funding.
The report takes place in a climate of increasing concern surrounding abuse in sport, with many historic cases recently coming to light, and plays a beneficial role in directing energy towards protecting young people in the community through meaningful action. It functions as a useful self-assessment tool for sport organisations working with young people that are committed to ensuring their safety and wellbeing.