In August 2022, Patrick Williams, Associate in the specialist abuse team at Keoghs, considered the Whyte Review, which was a UK Sport and Sport England co-commissioned thorough and impartial review by Anne Whyte QC into the allegations of physical, emotional and mental abuse by gymnastic coaches. A copy can be viewed here: Abuse in gymnastics: The Whyte Review and lessons learned in sport | Keoghs.
While a number of important recommendations were made, one of those recommendations related to hydration, weighing gymnasts and academic education. The Whyte Review recommended that:
“BG [British Gymnastics] must review the types and level of support provided to non-Olympic disciplines and ensure these are improved in light of the findings of this report.”
On 17 November 2023, at their first-ever National Welfare Officer Conference, British Gymnastics (BG) unveiled the #BeTheChange campaign, created to help keep gymnastics a safe and fair sport.
As part of the campaign and in response to the recommendations set out in the Whyte Review, BG has introduced the first of its series of newly implemented safeguarding policies focusing on the protection of the welfare of gymnasts in regards to hydration, weighing gymnasts and academic education. BG aims to introduce further policies over the next 12 months.
In regard to the newly introduced policies relating to hydration and weighing gymnasts, BG aims to build on and strengthen the initial position statements they released in 2022, while the academic education policy has been introduced to make clear that BG does not believe that a child missing regular formal education for gymnastics club training is necessary in the pursuit of achieving their gymnastics ambitions.
While a copy of the full policies can be viewed here, a summary of each of the newly introduced policies is as follows:
Academic education policy:
The introduction of the new and amended BG policies above will no doubt be welcome news for all BG clubs and their coaches, and any other gymnastics organisation which, while they might not be BG members, may choose to adopt BG policies to help keep children safe in gymnastics. Further, BG’s transparent approach to the current and future improvements to their safeguarding policies will likely provide parents/carers of children in gymnastics perhaps much-needed confidence to allow their children to continue to train and compete in a BG environment.
While this is just the first in a series of new/updated safeguarding policies by BG, we will wait with anticipation of the further planned developments throughout the year.
For more information, please contact Patrick Williams, Associate
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