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Thursday, December 1st, 2016

Time to Get Serious

SafeguardingThe latest round of news about historical child abuse which is suddenly swamping the Football Association should be a wake up call for anyone involved in the running of activities for children.

We can be sure that this issue is not restricted to those areas where it has surfaced so far. It will no longer be a shock if the worlds of amateur dance or seaside holiday camps are the next under this spotlight.

Whilst safeguarding standards are so different today and CRB/DBS checks have revolutionised scrutiny of those involved in working with children, regrettably, there tends to be more rigour in some arenas than others.

From medical services through churches to uniformed organisations, there tend to be well constructed, maintained and monitored procedure manuals. However, in small volunteer run dance groups, youth clubs and the like, the capacity, or even the understanding, to sustain the same level of focus can be a challenge. In consequence, the level of priority given to safeguarding can be variable.

Whilst we can sympathise to a point with volunteers who are stretched enough planning and organising activities, maintaining memberships and managing the money, it is clear that the highest possible rigour is as vital in safeguarding as it is in accounting or in planning in all forms of voluntary led activity involving children.

Its time to get serious about the issue in all corners of our sector and raise the bar.

Some organisations will need help and support to get to grips with the risks and what is expected. The resources required need to made available, free of charge. However, to avoid volunteers becoming disillusioned and stepping away from an extra burden, standards will need to be encouraged not imposed, progress should be nurtured not directed.

And the risks are not limited to places of organised activity. Youngsters can be groomed on street corners. We should all learn to recognise the signs and be prepared to declare any concerns.

The blighting of young lives must stop. It is a shared problem in need of shared solutions.

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