September 18, 2020

Safeguarding youth in the Caribbean

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CYSDP-logoBy Janine Thornhill From Sport and Development

Child protection and safeguarding in sport has been neglected in the Caribbean. Recently, however, individuals and organisations are becoming more aware of the abuse youth experience while participating in sporting activities.

A recently conducted survey by the Caribbean Sport and Development Agency (CSDA) revealed that more than 80% of participants were aware of some level of abuse towards children in sports. The survey also revealed that a higher percentage of these acts of abuse were committed by peers/teammates and the second highest incidence occurred with coaches and adults around the sport.

In 2012, CSDA began a regional training and awareness campaign with its project called ‘SafeStamp’. The aim of the project is to ensure that children have the opportunity to participate in a safe and enjoyable environment.

In an attempt to ensure that the initiative is sustainable in the region, the focus has since been put on involving youth in the developmental and implementation stages of child protection and safeguarding policies.

Why work with youth?
Today’s generation of young people are the largest in history. Of the total population of inhabitants in the Caribbean, 49% are people under the age of 25.

Many policies and systems focused on youth have failed during implementation stages due to the lack of youth input in the developmental stages of the policies. This is a common mistake made by decision-makers.

Designing and implementing policies geared towards the well-being of youth stands a much greater chance of success if youth have a voice in the actual creation and execution of said policies. This is an issue highlighted strongly by the Commonwealth Youth Sport for Development and Peace working group (CYSDP) in their position statement, calling for more youth-centred decision-making mechanisms in sports programmes.

How can youth get involved?
During a focus group with five participants between the ages of 18 and 25, the group was asked how they could become involved in safeguarding policy-making decisions in sport. The following are some of the responses:
Development of youth advisory groups
Appointment of youth representatives at the organisational and national level
Creation of youth- led safeguarding campaigns and training
Peer counseling

While sport encourages children to develop qualities such as leadership, confidence and self-esteem, children are also vulnerable to many types of abuse. The relevance of sport to youth development is a strong concept in the Commonwealth in breaking today’s status quo.

Currently, young people are contributing to policy discussions through the CYSDP, which is challenging other organisations throughout the world to embrace youth involvement in decision-making processes.

This is the fifth in a series of articles from the CYSDP Working Group. Don’t miss the final part of the series and launch of the CYSDP Advocacy Toolkit, which will feature in the 137th sportanddev e-Newsletter.

If you missed them the first time around, here are the other four articles in this series:
Commonwealth Youth Sport for Development and Peace Working Group: Tackling youth development
Tackling youth development issues in the Pacific region
Why SDP is an effective tool in tackling youth development issues
Addressing youth unemployment in Asia with CYSDP

Visit the CYSDP website at: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/cysdp/

For more on this story go to: http://www.sportanddev.org/?12139/1/Safeguarding-youth-in-the-Caribbean

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