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Keeping Kids Safe in Sport

Children are involved in activities outside of their homes virtually every day. Child care, sports teams and other extra-curricular programs make up the active life of a child. Just as there are steps to create physically safe environments, there are steps parents, coaches and sports organizations can take to reduce the risk of a child being sexually abused.

The unfortunate reality is that any organization that works with children is vulnerable to child sexual abuse, and sport is no exception. Child sexual abuse can go undetected, even by responsible adults. It often begins with inappropriate behaviour towards a child.

The Canadian Centre for Child Protection partnered with the Jays Care Foundation to develop a resource that will help create safer environments for children in sports organizations. With the support of a direct donation from Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher R.A. Dickey, the Commit to Kids - Sport Edition was developed.

"I carried the pain of sexual abuse for more than two decades. As a kid I didn't know how to deal with it, so I tried to forget. But you can't forget," said R.A. Dickey, who disclosed in 2007 that at eight years old he was sexually abused by a female babysitter, and later by a teenage male. "When kids sign up for sports they are trusted into our care, and we have every responsibility to take all the steps possible to keep them safe.

This program helps sports organizations to do that."

This resource helps to create safer environments for children in sport using a broader approach than criminal record and child abuse registry checks. Because most offenders do not have a criminal record, relying only on record checks is not enough to protect children from individuals looking to harm them.

"Organizations who serve children are vulnerable to attracting individuals to work or volunteer for them who have a sexual interest in or present a risk to children," said Noni Classen, Director of Education at the Canadian Centre for Child Protection. "As adults, we all have a responsibility to protect the children in our care."

This resource has easy-to-follow strategies, policies, and a step-by-step plan for reducing the risk of child sexual abuse. The kit includes a Guide for Sport Organizations and a training video, as well as materials for parents and sports leaders. Visit www.commit2kids.ca/sport or call 1-800-532-9135 to order a free kit today.

The Canadian Centre for Child Protection is a charitable organization dedicated to the personal safety of all children. Visit www.protectchildren.ca to learn more. 

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