Sports, clubs and other activities

How to make sure kids are safe in clubs, sports and other activities – and what to do if you’re concerned.

Worried about a child?

Contact our helpline for free to talk to a trained professional - even if it's only to put your mind at ease.

Call us on 0808 800 5000, email or fill in our online form.

Get advice and support

Concerned about gymnastics?

In response to recent concerns raised by gymnasts we’ve set up a dedicated helpline in association with the British Athletes Commission (BAC). We’re here to support you.

If you have any concerns about bullying or abuse within gymnastics, you can talk to one our professional counsellors by calling us on 0800 056 0566 or by emailing  

The helpline is open 8am-10pm Monday to Friday and 9am-6pm on weekends - or you can email anytime.

Keeping safe outside of school

Sports, clubs and other activities are a great way to learn new skills and make new friends. Whether it's a drama class or martial arts club, arts and crafts or band practice, hobbies and activities can be an important part of growing up and learning to be more independent.

It's important to make sure your kids are safe and happy, wherever they are. We've got advice to help keep your childen safe at their club, sport or activity, so they can focus on training, learning and having fun. We also have lots of information about staying safe at school.

What to look for in a club, sport or other activity

It's important to look for a club, sport or activity that takes the safety and wellbeing of your child seriously. Always check whether the club or organisation is accredited or otherwise affiliated to a body (e.g. a sports governing body or national voluntary sector or faith organisation) as this should mean they have the right safeguarding policies and procedures in place.

Even if they're accredited, there are some key things to look for to ensure they take children's safety seriously.

  • A welfare or child protection officer you can contact about safeguarding or with any concerns.
  • Clear procedures and processes for raising complaints and concerns.
  • Written standards of good practice – like a code of conduct or code of behaviour. This should outline the boundaries that staff and volunteers should respect when working with children and young people and should address things like discrimination and bullying and social media behaviour.
  • Effective consent and emergency processes. You should receive a form asking for your consent to the activity, for your contact details, and any relevant medical information about your child from the club or organisation.
  • A safe recruitment process for staff and volunteers, including vetting. This means they have appropriate references, criminal records checks and the right technical qualifications for the activity.
  • Staff and volunteers are trained in safeguarding (child protection). NSPCC Learning provides information and online courses if you work with children.
  • Children and young people are suitably supervised (based on their age, ability, the activity and venue) by adults who are trained to care for them.
  • The activity takes place in a safe environment – and there are separate changing areas for children and adults.

Remember, it’s never wrong to ask for more information when it comes to children's safety, wellbeing and safeguarding. Organisations should welcome questions about their activities and policies and should have answers on hand if you ask.

Our Child Protection in Sport Unit goes into more detail about each of our checklist points in their information for parents and carers. NSPCC Learning provides more information about safeguarding in other organisations.

Advice for parents

Even if the organisation seems safe, it’s best to keep talking to your child and making sure they’re enjoying their experience. If something’s wrong, it’s important they feel like they can talk to you about it.

Staying involved in your child’s activities – whether that’s sports, performing arts or any activity they take on – helps keep them safe and means you can support them with whatever they need.

It can help to consider what you want your child to get out of the activity. Is this also what they want? What do they need from you? You can help to make sure their experience is positive by taking an interest and being supportive from the sidelines whatever the result. 

Our Child Protection in Sport Unit has plenty of advice about how to support your kids – and we’re asking parents and carers to make our Sports Parents Promise to their kids.

When choosing a club or activity with your child, it’s important to make sure they have clear health and safety procedures in place.

Clubs and organisations will list important sports and safety equipment if it’s needed – particularly for outdoor activities like the Duke of Edinburgh Awards, or contact sports like rugby, martial arts or boxing. Read through all the information you receive carefully and make sure your child has everything they need to stay safe, warm and dry.

Children and young people’s health should always come first – however important the match, game or event may feel. If they aren’t getting time for rest or recovery this could have a knock-on effect for their health and wellbeing.

The NHS has guidelines on how much physical activity children under 5 and children and young people from 5-18 should be doing.

When your child is travelling or staying somewhere overnight with a club or organisation it’s essential you’re clear on the safeguarding procedures to keep your child safe.

These include:

  • consent forms
  • emergency contact details
  • clear, pre-agreed sleeping arrangements
  • your child can contact you if they want to.

NSPCC Learning provides more information about overnight stays and our Child Protection in Sport Unit has information about overnight stays with sports organisations.

Concerned about a child?

If you're worried about a child, always talk to someone. If there is something wrong, you may not just be helping one child, you could be helping many children who may be at risk.

If you think:

  • a child is in immediate danger of abuse, contact the police on 999
  • there's no immediate danger and you're unsure what to do – call, email or submit an online form to our Helpline, and we'll give advice and take action if needed.

Raising your concerns to a club or organisation

It’s important to put your child first and to trust your instincts. If something’s wrong, you aren’t just helping them by reporting it, you’re helping everyone keep kids safer.

If there’s something wrong and you’re concerned, follow the organisation’s guidelines for recording and reporting concerns, and speak to their welfare officer. Our Helpline can provide expert advice and support - call us on 0808 800 5000, email or fill in our online form.