Sunday, 14 August 2011

Who really cares about child abuse in martial arts?

I have written several articles showing my concern about children under 5 doing kicking and punching arts but nobody would listen except SportEngland. SO, WHO REALLY CARES ABOUT CHILD ABUSE?

Here is what SportEngland had to say:

Dear Martin

Thank you for your recent email about ‘Kiddie Cage Fighting’.

We have shared your concerns with the Child Protection in Sport Unit (part of the NSPCC) who are one of our National Partners who support National Governing Bodies of Sport. We fund recognised sports with matters relating to safeguarding and child protection.

The NSPCC have expressed their concerns about this type of activity happening (they refer to is as ‘mixed martial arts’) and following a documentary which was shown on Channel 4 a couple of years ago entitled ‘Strictly Baby Fighting’ issued the below statement to all press and media / LAs which is still relevant and one which we in Sport England endorse:

Mixed martial arts is not recognised as a sport by any of the UK Sports Councils or the Department of Culture Media and Sport. It has no single governing body that the Sports Councils can intervene with or that the NSPCC Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU) can engage in dialogue with to raise the serious issues highlighted by this programme.

There are a number of sports and recreation activities that children and young people are involved in that fall outside of the regulated Governing Body structure. This can often mean that standards fall short of that which we would expect to see in place, and may encourage practice that can compromise the welfare and safety of young people. In the absence of regulation by a Governing Body local interventions are the only means of raising the standards of operation of these activities. All Sport England County Sports Partnerships and many Governing Bodies of sport operate club accreditation programmes that promote and recognise best practice in providing sport for children and young people. Information on this can be found at and on the CPSU’s website at .

Specific concerns in relation to safeguarding should be referred to local Children's Social Care services. There may also be the opportunity for local interventions by Local Safeguarding Children Boards.

Local Education Welfare Services have a responsibility under the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 and 1963 and the Children (Performances) Regulations 1968, to investigate and monitor employment undertaken by young people of compulsory school age. The purpose of this legislation is to ensure that it is safe and legal, and that it does not damage or interrupt their education. This would apply to children taking part in a “professional” fight (i.e. where spectators have paid to watch).

The Licensing Act 2003 requires authorisation for regulated entertainment or of entertainment facilities to be obtained, and this would include an indoor sporting event or boxing or wrestling entertainment. Before granting the license the applicant will be required to demonstrate how they are promoting the four objectives of the Act, which includes the protection of children from harm.

Local letting policies have been established in a small number of local authority leisure services to promote best practice in the provision of sporting activities for children and young people. Within the safeguarding policies of these leisure services departments, provision can be made for clubs and associations seeking to use facilities to demonstrate minimum standards in relation to safeguarding. Where non-affiliated or unregulated sports clubs seek to hire facilities this approach to letting can be an effective means of introducing minimum operating standards, raising standards of practice, and addressing some of the worst aspects of youth sport highlighted in the programme.

Should you have any further questions / concerns about this please contact Jayne Molyneux, our Strategic Lead Children at or Young People or the CPSU (via the website address above).

We are still looking into your previous email regarding children in martial arts and will respond as soon as possible.

Best wishes


Richard Clarkson

Senior Grants Manager

Creating sporting opportunities in every community

Sport England, 3rd Floor Victoria House, Bloomsbury Square, London WC1B 4SE

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