By: U.S. Center for SafeSport Staff
Your child is ready to start their first sport. It’s an exciting time! While you’re setting schedules, arranging carpools, and getting the right equipment, don’t forget to spend some time on athlete safety as well. You’ll be setting your child up for a successful and safe season.
Focus on fun! Some people get caught up in the competition. Sports, especially for young children just starting out, should be about helping kids learn new skills, practice teamwork, and have fun with friends.
Develop a positive relationship with coaches. Your child’s coach has expertise in the sport. You have expertise in your child. You can work together to improve your child’s personal development and overall well-being.
Set healthy boundaries. Talk to your child about physical boundaries between themselves, other players, and the coach before they attend their first practice. Make sure your child knows they have a right for their body to be safe and respected.
Talk about inclusion. Some kids are at greater risk of being left out, including those with disabilities, LGBTQ+ youth, and youth of color. Remind your child to include all their teammates in play and conversations. Teams that support each other are stronger.
Ask about abuse prevention policies. All sport organizations should have clear policies to protect athletes. The policies should define prohibited behaviors, limit one-on-one contact between adults and kids, and set requirements for abuse prevention training.
Remember – you are your child’s biggest fan and their greatest resource. Pay attention to what’s going on during practices and games, model appropriate and respectful behavior, and remind them you are there to support them.
Get more tips about protecting young athletes from the U.S. Center for SafeSport’s Parent Toolkit.
The U.S. Center for SafeSport is an independent nonprofit organization responsible for responding to and preventing emotional, physical, and sexual misconduct and abuse in the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Movement. The Center also serves as an educational resource for sports organizations at all levels, from recreational sports organizations to professional leagues.