Parents in Sport Week is an annual nationwide campaign run by the Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU).
The campaign aims to raise awareness among parents on how to keep their children safe when taking part in sport.
This year’s theme is ‘Let’s talk about keeping children safe in sport’. The CPSU has a host of resources, videos and guidance on their website which can help you keep your child safe.
But what if your child is now an adult? How can you continue to help keep them safe in their sport?
You don’t suddenly stop being a parent once your child reaches 18.
By the time they reach 18, most people will be able to make, and have the legal backing to make, their own decisions – however unwise you may think they are.
Yet even after your children turn 18, you can still play a role in helping keep them safe. You can also help them look after their own wellbeing.
For Parents of Elite Athletes
If you are a parent of an adult elite athlete, the chances are you have been heavily involved in their sporting journey from a very young age – emotionally, financially and logistically! You’ve likely also supported their chosen sport as a volunteer at events and training over the years.
It can therefore be very hard to not be as involved as you once were, or to not have the same level of control or influence as you did as a parent of someone under 18. You are likely to be familiar with the intensity and pressures of elite sport. But you may not be aware of the impact this can have on an athlete’s level of vulnerability to harm and general wellbeing.
For Parents of Someone with Care and Support Needs
There are similar special considerations if you are a parent of someone with care and support needs. Whether they are an elite athlete or a recreational participant, and whether you continue to provide care and support or if others help you with this, they will eventually start making their own choices. And this means that, sometimes, they’ll make their own mistakes. It can be difficult to balance your child’s right to be an independent adult with your natural instinct to protect them.
Regardless of the level of sport your adult child is involved with, there are some key things you can do to help keep them safe, while ensuring they maintain their independence.
As a parent of an adult what can you do to help keep them safe in their sport?
- Maintain a healthy open relationship where they feel they can come to you with any concerns.
- Don’t dismiss any concerns or worries they share with you.
- Help them seek help when asked.
- Keep an eye out for changes in behaviour
- Prompt them to speak to someone such as their Welfare Officer, Coach, another trusted person.
- Know what their sport has in place to support athlete wellbeing and welfare so you can steer them to the appropriate people or information.
- Be aware of and share information about other support organisations.
- Know what the signs or indicators are which may be cause for concern.
- Offer guidance and support, while remembering they have self-determination and can ultimately make their own choices.
- If you have any concerns about the welfare of wellbeing of your son or daughter, it may seem obvious, but have a conversation with them about it. They may be waiting for someone to notice or for you to ask!
- If you have safeguarding concerns about someone else within the sporting organisation, report this to the organisation’s safeguarding/ welfare officer as soon as possible.
If you are unsure about how Safeguarding Adults differs from children, we have lots of resources on our website to help you.