Child Protection

What You Need To Know When Coaching Kids

It is critical that all coaches comply with the NSW Government Working With Children Check or complete a Member Protection Declaration – for more information visit the Working With Children page of the website.

Each year coaches and managers become role models and play an important part in the lives of thousands of children who look up to them for guidance and encouragement in the sport they love.

Coaches are at the forefront of football, so it is critical that these people, who play such an important part in the success of our sport, know how to behave when coaching children and young people.  This information is provided to assist coaches and other officials so that they are aware of what types of behaviour are appropriate when coaching children and young people and what types of behaviour are identified as child abuse.


Support, communication, understanding, listening, teamwork, honour, pride, promotion of sportsmanship, respect, accepting victory, accepting defeat, clapping, cheering, applauding, acknowledgement of team contribution to success, pat on the back (“well done”), shaking hand, respecting the privacy of the individual, requesting the intervention of parents or the club if a child is disruptive, violent or a possible danger to other children, respect of all children in the team and treat them as equals no matter their ability, disability, colour, race or religious beliefs.


Verbal abuse, emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, discrimination, harassment, bullying, behaviour which threatens or frightens a child, swearing directly at a child, hitting, smacking, shaking, throwing, pushing to cause physical harm, physical assault of an adult in the presence of a child, inappropriate touching, fondling, hugging, name-calling, constant criticism, sarcasm, subjecting a child to any form of unnecessary extreme temperature, encouragement or promotion of the use of alcohol or illegal substances including banned sports substances and any form of abusive or sexually explicit activity as outlined in the definitions of child abuse.



Child abuse is any form of verbal, emotional, physical or sexual mistreatment or lack of care that leads to psychological or physical harm or injury.


The persistent emotional ill treatment of a child which is likely to cause severe and lasting adverse effects on the child’s emotional development.  It may involve communicating to a child that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate, or valued only in terms of meeting the needs of another person.  It may feature expectations of children that are not appropriate to their age or development.  It may involve causing children to feel frightened or in danger by being constantly shouted at, threatened or taunted which may make the child very nervous and withdrawn.  The ill treatment of children, whatever form it takes, will always feature a degree of emotional abuse.

Emotional abuse in sport may include;
Subjecting children to constant criticism, name-calling, sarcasm or bullying and putting children or young people under consistent pressure to perform to unrealistic and often unachievable high standards.

This is when adults physically assault, hurt or cause injury to children by hitting, smacking, pushing with intent to harm, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning, biting, scalding, suffocating or drowning. This includes deliberately causing ill health in a child they are looking after.
Examples in sport: this may occur when a child is forced into training or competition that exceeds the capacity of his or her immature and growing body (e.g. lifting heavy weights, running excessive distances or over training); or where the child is given drugs to enhance performance or delay puberty.


Sexual abuse is when adults use children to meet their own sexual needs.  Showing children pornography (books, videos), talking to children in a sexual manner and behaving in a sexually explicit manner are also forms of sexual abuse.

Examples in sport: coaching techniques which involve physical contact with children could potentially create situations where sexual abuse may go unnoticed. The power of the coach over young performers, if misused, can also lead to abusive situations developing. Coaches should be cautious if their position involves showing children direction by way of touch.

Always ensure that your grip is not too firm and that your hand placement is away from personal areas.


Bullying is fast becoming an issue affecting children in sport which in some cases is a form of child abuse, even though those responsible are often other children. It is important to recognise the impact that bullying and discrimination has on their young lives.

Sports organisations at all levels have a duty of care to safeguard all children, including disabled children and children from cultural backgrounds from this type of harm.

Bullying can be psychological, verbal, or physical. It involves an imbalance of power in which the powerful attack the powerless, and occurs over time rather than a single act.

Examples of bullying behaviour by children or adults include:
• name-calling or verbally abuse
• deliberate embarrassment or humiliation
• being made to feel different or unaccepted
• being physically assaulted or threatened
• being ignored or being lied about.


Neglect occurs when adults fail to meet a child’s basic needs, to an extent that is likely to result in serious impairment of the child’s health or development. For example, failing to protect a child from physical harm or danger, or failing to ensure access to appropriate medical care/treatment.

Examples in sport: not ensuring children are safe, exposing them to undue cold, heat or electrical storms or exposing them to unnecessary risk of injury.

Also check out the Play by the Rules ( site for more excellent information.

For further information contact your club or association Child Protection Officer or visit
Websites or

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