Safeguarding

Guidance for parents and carers

Guidance for parents and carers

Parents and carers are the focus of this year’s Play Safe campaign. Its aim is to ensure everyone understands the part they can play to safeguard children throughout football in England. 

As far as parents and carers are concerned, our current goal is to emphasise the valued and vital safeguarding role every parent/carer plays in football. We’ve also developed a free, short online safeguarding awareness course we’re encouraging all parents/carers to take. You’ll find it here.

We have also recently filmed an incredibly open and frank conversation from three survivors of child sexual abuse in football, which you can see here.

Jamie, Gary and Ellie share a difficult conversation of their own experiences and memories from a horrific time in their lives in the hope that it paves the way for a more open conversations in football to help prevent abuse.

We are also encouraging parents/carers with a child in football to:-

  • Ensure you know who your child’s coach/manager is, how they will communicate with you, how you can contact them and how to get feedback on your child - ask if they are FA DBS checked and safeguarding trained
  • Put the NSPCC Helpline and CWO name and contact details in your phone/notebook - ensure you and your child understand the CWOs role
  • Be clear about acceptable and unacceptable behaviour at your child’s club - sign up and adhere to their codes of conduct
  • Ask your child what they enjoy about playing - and remember this when supporting them!
  • Agree with your child how you will support/check-in to see how they are doing
  • Ensure your child understands their rights - find out more
  • Ensure you and your child know how to report a concern - find out more
  • Encourage your child to speak to you about anything that worries them, no matter how big or small

Please see our additional guidance notes 8.5 covering tips for parents/carers on your child(ren)’s online activities. It also covers what you should expect when your child(ren)’s club is in touch with you online.

What you can expect and how to play your part in safeguarding your child.

Everyone involved in football has a part to play to ensure children can play in a safe and enjoyable environment. County FAs, club committees, designated safeguarding officers, coaches, medics, referees and parents/carers – all are key to ensuring football has effective safeguards in place.

What can parents expect?

All affiliated clubs must have a Safeguarding Children Policy and a Club Welfare Officer (CWO) who has been DBS-checked and safeguarding-trained. The Chairperson, Secretary, Treasurer and CWO must have completed our free ‘Safeguarding for Committee Members’ course. All coaches must be named against the team they're involved with on our system, must be DBS-checked and safeguarding-trained.

What can parents do?

Firstly, it’s important to know who’s helping your child play football, understanding what’s expected of your child and in turn how you and their coaches are expected to behave. A well-run club will be happy to share how they organise things, so go ahead and ask, check out the club’s website and social media pages (if they have them) as these will also give you some insights to the club.

You might be offered parent/carer and or player ‘welcome packs’, player ‘taster sessions’ and pre-season parent/care meetings. All are helpful in getting to know exactly what’s on offer.

As a guide, here are the questions you should ask before you register your child with a club:

Guidance Notes 8.1: Questions You Should Ask

What if I have a safeguarding concern?

If you're worried about a child, it’s vital you report your concerns. There are five ways to do this:

  1. To your club or league Designated Safeguarding Officer (usually referred to as the club welfare officer in grassroots football);
  2. To your County FA Designated Safeguarding Officer. Here's a list of all County FA contact details;
  3. By emailing our Safeguarding Team at safeguarding@TheFA.com
  4. If urgent and you cannot contact your club, league or County FA Designated Safeguarding Officer, you can contact the NSPCC Helpline for expert advice and support on 0808 800 5000 or help@nspcc.org.uk;
  5. If it's an emergency because a child or children are at immediate risk, then call the Police or Children’s Social Care in your area.

If you’d like to find out more about what happens when you report a concern or to access The FA Referral Form please visit Section 2 and refer to our Guidance Notes 2.1: How to Report Safeguarding Concerns and Guidance Notes 2.2: Safeguarding Referral Form – Affiliated Football.

Reporting online abuse to the CEOP Safety Centre

If you’re concerned that your child is being groomed or sexually abused online, you can make a report to the CEOP Safety Centre, which is a part of the National Crime Agency.

Day in, day out the NCA work to protect and support children and young people who are at risk of online child sexual abuse.

Reports from parents and carers might include concerns such as:
• Someone online is talking to my child about sex.
• Someone is asking my child to communicate with them on a live-streaming platform.
• Someone online is asking to meet up with my child.
• Someone online is asking my child for sexual photos or videos.
• I’m worried my child is being groomed online.

Please note: the CEOP Safety Centre are unable to respond to reports about online bullying, fake accounts or account hacking.

How to make a report

Simply go to the CEOP Safety Centre then click on the yellow button. You’ll be asked a number of questions such as what happened, who did it happen to, what do you know about the suspected offender, as well as your name and contact details.

Don’t worry if you don’t know all the details about what happened, just fill in the form as fully as you can. Once you’ve made your report, it will be reviewed by a Child Protection Advisor.

You have a right and a responsibility to ensure that your children are safe at all times.

The FA is committed to:

  • Implementing preventative safeguarding measures (including DBS Checks and safeguarding training)
  • Making the reporting of concerns as easy as possible (via a network of club welfare officers)
  • Ensuring safeguarding concerns are investigated swiftly and thoroughly, working with statutory agencies (via football’s network of Designated Safeguarding Officers and The FA’s Case Management Team)

You might also be interested in….

Section 3: SAFER RECRUITMENT AND DBS CHECKS

Section 6: SAFEGUARDING IN THE DIGITAL WORLD