The Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) is hoping to raise awareness of child abuse in sports through a public education campaign with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
Officials say child abuse in sport does occurs and is not a publicly prevalent issue due to its taboo nature.
The public education campaign strategy was launched on the 2nd August in Dominica.
While sport can be used to promote healthy lifestyles and to help create a protective environment, it opens up the very real potential for child abuse with victims often powerless to respond, according to a press release from the OECS Secretariat.
This includes verbal, physical or emotional violence whether intentional and unintentional: 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 OECS-UNICEF campaign aims to raise public awareness on this multi-dimensional issue across OECS Member States.
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.
The communications campaign has 3 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, behaviors and practices which can protect younger youth from harm and abuse.
The campaign will be aided by the distribution of brochures and radio and television public service announcements in the OECS Member States.