Would you leave your car and keys with a stranger at the park for a couple of hours on a Saturday morning? Just because they said they’d look after them for you. Probably not – so would you entrust your children to complete strangers?

How do you know that the football squad, youth club or art class your child goes to, takes their safety seriously and knows how to ensure it? There are a few simple steps we recommend you take, to give you peace of mind that the safety of your child is being taken seriously. These are:
* Always know where your child is.
* Find out whether the club/group is well known in the local community? How long has it existed? Is it known to local schools, churches, health centres, youth and community services?
* Ask how many adults will supervise the children. Will your child always be with other children and never left alone with an adult or adults?
* What are the changing and toilet arrangements?
* Does the group encourage parents to get involved?
* Has the group produced a written policy which clearly states its commitment to protect the children in its care from abuse? Is it part of a bigger organisation with clear child protection rules? Does it state the qualifications and responsibilities of the staff and volunteers? Is there a qualified first aider on hand?
* Once your child has joined a group, call in from time to time to see what is going on. There are no secrets about the importance of having an open child protection environment, information should be clear and the staff or volunteers should welcome your questions.

Bristol Safeguarding Children Board is really pleased to support Child-Safe which promotes the importance of child protection in non-affiliated sport and community groups.

The scheme provides a seminar and a resource pack to enable organisations to put in place secure child protection measures. So that means parents, carers, children, young people as well as organisers, volunteers and staff can feel more reassured that child protection will be taken seriously within clubs using this scheme.

So ask the clubs and the organisations that your children go to, to find out more about the Child-Safe scheme. It really will make a difference to your peace of mind. Make sure that you are happy that they have an open child protection environment, with which you and your children are comfortable.

The protection of children in Bristol is everyone’s responsibility. This is your opportunity to play a vital part in keeping our children and young people safe.