Breaking the silence on child abuse in sports

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Although the Caribbean is recognized for its sporting talent at the regional and international level, child abuse in sport occurs but public discussion on the issue is taboo. The OECS and UNICEF are partnering to launch a public education campaign on child abuse in sports.
A public education campaign strategy was recently formulated and launched in Dominica. The Strategy targets athletes from 10 to 29 years old and the overall realm of youth – parents, teachers, coaches – to provide information on identifying incidents of abuse and the best means of assisting the victims.
Official representatives and coaches from the National Olympic Committee, from the Government of Dominica and sports associations participated in the event, which included a training programme.
It is widely acknowledged that physical activity and sport can be used to promote healthy lifestyles as well as help to create a protective environment.
However, sport opens up the very real potential for child abuse – whether intentional or unintentional – with victims often powerless to respond to verbal abuse, physical maltreatment, sexual misconduct between a coach and a child, doping, bullying and hazing, trafficking of minors by sport recruiters, improperly treated injuries, playing while hurt/injured, inadequate equipment and poorly maintained or unsafe equipment and facilities.
The communications campaign has three specific goals: mobilizing Member States to integrate child protection as part of its sporting policies; mobilizing Heads of Sporting disciplines in Member States to develop and implement comprehensive child protection policies; enhancing the capacity of youth (ages 10-18 and 18-29) especially those working in the area of sports to implement actions, behaviours and practices which can protect younger youth from harm and abuse.
The campaign will be aided by the distribution of brochures as well as radio and television public service announcements in OECS Member States.

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