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  • The Government of Jamaica is developing a policy to ensure the protection of children, who participate in sports.
  • Development and implementation of a detailed policy on the Safeguarding and Protection of Children in Sport will assist in keeping children safe from harm.
  • Sporting organisations, coaches, trainers, sports administrators and school staff, will be required to answer to the Government as to how well they are implementing the policy in their sport, or in the school or club system.

The Government of Jamaica is developing a policy to ensure the protection of children, who participate in sports.

Minister with responsibility for Sport, Hon. Neita Headley, said development and implementation of a detailed policy on the Safeguarding and Protection of Children in Sport, and adherence to its guidelines by stakeholders within the sporting fraternity, will assist in keeping children safe from harm.

She said that sporting organisations, coaches, trainers, sports administrators and school staff, will be required to answer to the Government as to how well they are implementing the policy in their sport, or in the school or club system.

She was addressing a stakeholder consultation on Thursday, October 9, at the Courtleigh Hotel and Suites in New Kingston, to inform the creation of the policy document.

Mrs. Neita Headley said that sensitizing those involved in developing and honing the talent of youngsters in all sporting disciplines, can balance the drive for success with the rounded development of youngsters. “This is to ensure their safe and injury-free development in athletics along with their proper academic development, so that we can guarantee for them, a life after active participation in sport,” she said.

She noted that the potential for physical, mental and developmental abuse of children is great, adding that pressure from family, coaches, agents and others to succeed and become “money machines” can be detrimental to the child.

“The safety of our children must come first; before medals, records, points or any other considerations. How often do young stars disappear from the sporting scene while others who were not as successful attain the highest heights?” she questioned.

She said that young people involved in sports can protect their interests, by “challenging the system if they believe that the system is allowing abuse, and to stand up for themselves and each other.”

The forum was organised by the Office of the Prime Minister in collaboration with UK Sport.

It was held to continue the conversation on the importance of safeguarding and protecting children in sport; to promote the creation and maintenance of a safe sporting environment for children wherever they participate and at whatever level; and to provide clarity on all  that is involved in safeguarding and protecting children involved in sport.

Ms. Neita Headley thanked UK Sport for its support, noting that the entity has also partnered with the Government on the Beckwith International Leadership Development (BILD) Jamaica Project, which is designed to instil leadership qualities and strengthen the skills of the country’s youth.

“UK Sport has also given us the ‘Self Audit Tool’, an ideal way to measure how far (or near) your organisation is from meeting the draft international standards for safeguarding and protecting children in sports, and where you need to improve,” she said.

The ‘Self Audit Tool’ looks at: policy; procedures, personnel and systems; minimising risks to children; guidelines on behaviour; equity; communication; education and training; engagement with advice and support; working with partners; involving children; and monitoring and evaluation.

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